Why Fewer Wild Horses Will Be Roaming the West

September 2009

This week, the Bureau of Land Management will use helicopters to round up a herd of wild horses and their foals roaming in Montana and Wyoming. They will either be put up for adoption or given a contraceptive vaccine. A small number will be culled, according to Montana's Billings Gazette, which reports that advocacy groups in Colorado failed in their court battle to prevent the BLM from conducting the roundup, which includes horses at the 38,000-acre Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range, the nation's first officially designated home for wild horses. The advocacy groups, including The Cloud Foundation, went to court to stop the action, noting that the horses have been in the United States longer than many Americans, dating back to Spanish colonial times. But U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan rejected their plea for an injunction. In recent months, horse advocates have been angry with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, as the plan moves along under his watch. The Cloud Foundation is also wary of BLM contractor Dave Cattoor of Maybell, Colorado. The foundation writes that Cattoor "was indicted by a federal grand jury and pled guilty to illegally hunting wild horses, aiding and abetting in 1992. He rounded up protected American mustangs, corralled into pens, loaded them into trucks, and hauled them to a slaughter house in Texas where they lost their lives." Since 2000, the group claims Cattoor has received more than $13.4 million from the federal government to conduct roundups, which the horse advocates argue violate the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act.

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