GUEST opinion

Sep 25, 2009
by WLJ
GUEST opinion


Horse expert Ken McNabb supports roundup of Pryor Mountain Mustangs

It is my belief, after having traversed the entire range of the Pryor Mountain herd and having looked at the amount of grasses left, that if the numbers in this herd are not managed, and a hard winter sets in, whether it’s this winter or next winter, there is going to be a large die-off in this herd.

I have spoken with area ranchers who have told me they have seen this [large die-offs] happen in the past and that it will not affect the overall genetic viability of the herd—it has not in the past.

In my opinion, horses that roam this range in 10 years will have their own issues to deal with and while I am very concerned with the longevity of this herd, I cannot in good conscience allow horses on the range today to suffer in hopes of what horses might look like in 10 years. In my 30 years of memory living in the area, the horse herd numbers have been below 120 animals numerous times. The fact that the herd is 189 animals today and that there are no genetic defects, to our knowledge, clearly displays that the past management practices of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) have kept the horses healthy and that the genetic integrity of the herd has not been damaged. Having grown up roaming the Pryors long before many of the Mustang advocates of today even knew these horses existed, I am understandably attached to the herd. If I thought that this herd would be damaged in any way, then I would clearly be against its management. However, I believe unequivocally that the gather and ongoing management is in the herd’s best interest.

Our show which aired Sept. 14 [on RFD-TV, Dish Network channel 231 and DirecTV channel 345], showed the range conditions of the Pryor Mountains. By then, the decisions had been made and it was too late for the show to make a difference in the outcome.

This herd is currently reproducing at a rate of 17 percent per year, meaning in the next couple of years, the number will grow from 189 to 250 fairly rapidly. This range simply will not feed that many animals.

It is also important to understand that the Pryor Mountain horses within the legal parameters of their range do not compete in any way with domestic livestock for forage. There have not been cattle permitted on this range in 40 years.

While there are those who would lead you to believe that this herd survived unmanaged for hundreds of years, it is simply not true. The local Native Americans, as well as settlers and ranchers, throughout history have captured members of this herd for their own personal use. This was still happening through the ’60s prior to the wild horse and burro protection act.

I have personally been involved in the activities surrounding the gather for the last 10 days and will be involved in various aspects of the gather and adoption process. I see absolutely nothing at this point to be concerned about and have personally been in contact with the contractor who will be performing the gather. We have extensively discussed his plan of operation and I feel confident that everything possible will be done for a safe and humane gather.

There are rumors currently flying around concerning secret plans that the BLM has to destroy individual horses. I personally know this not to be true. The BLM has no desire to see any of these horses eradicated. I have been amazed at the amount of attention given to making sure these horses are well taken care of. Please understand that this has become a very personal issue for me and I will continue to give you updates as the situation unfolds.

If your neighbor adopted several wild horses and then allowed them to starve in their backyard, I would certainly hope you would call the authorities and tell them of this problem. In this scenario, the authorities realize they have a problem, but their care of the horses is being brought to a halt by special interest groups. I am personally asking you to please call the responsible representatives, as well as your own representatives, in favor of the gather. Let them know that you do not want to see these horses left unmanaged to starve and die excruciating deaths when it can all be prevented with wise management.

Please contact the following people in support of the roundup and management of the wild horses:

Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar: Call: 202/208-3100; and BLM Director Bob Abbey: Call: 202/208-3801 or 866/ 468- 7826 of Fax: 202/208-5242.

Call and write your own senators and Congress people.

Ask them to become informed of the current state of wild Mustangs and support the management of the Pryor Mountain horses. Find your state offices by visiting As always, may God bless you, your family, your horses and the trails you ride.

Ken McNabb Cody, WY