More PZP News Regarding The Pryor Herd


I have been home now for a little over a week.  It feels good to have some time with my husband Bill and my animals.  But I do miss the Pryors and look forward to my next trip, which is coming up fast.

Even though I am not there, I know the horses are fine.  They have been fine for over 200 years (many more than that I am sure)  and I hope that they will continue to be fine.  But with the up coming PZP proposal, I am not sure this will be the case. Let’s just say I am worried.  I need to think about this proposal and meet with some others that know and care about this special herd before I make any final judgements and construct my letter to the BLM in regards to it.

I had a message on my cell phone from Jared saying this was coming out (thank you Jared for the call).  I did go on their website:  BLMWEBSITE.  On this page you can go to the lower left and see MT/DK Draft Resource Management Plans.  Under there, there is a link to the PMWHR fertility control modification.  There are several links to read, and I encourage you to read them.

A couple of days later I got my “Interested Party” letter in the mail telling me about the proposed plan.

Dear Interested Party,

United States Department of the Interior

5001 Southgate Drive
Billings, Montana 59101-4669

August 1, 2013

After consideration of public input during scoping the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range (PMWHR) Fertility Control Modification Preliminary Environmental Assessment (EA) DOI-BLM- MT-010-2013-0034 and unsigned Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) are available for a 30 day public review and comment period. The documents will be available at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Billings Field Office (BiFO) website at The comment period will be conducted beginning August 6, 2013 and ending on September 6, 2013

This EA is tiered to the PMWHR/Territory EA (MT-010-08-24) and Herd Management Area Plan (HMAP) May 2009. This tiered EA has been prepared to analyze the impacts associated to wild horses and other resources from modification to the current fertility control prescription. The analysis from the HMAP and the 2011 Fertility Control EA are incorporated by reference. All other impacts and affected environment are already described and analyzed in the HMAP and subsequent FONSI and Decision Record (DR). These documents are also available at the BLM web address above.

Comments about the EA or unsigned FONSI can be sent to or at the letterhead address by close of business September 6, 2013. To best ensure interested party’s comments are received, comments can be sent in a written form and mailed or hand delivered to the Billings Field Office. The BLM will consider any substantive comments and revise the EA or FONSI as appropriate. Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment, including your personal identifying information, may be publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.

Thank you for your interest in the management of the PMWHR by the Billings Field Office. If you have any questions concerning the EA or unsigned FONSI, please contact Jared Bybee, Montana/Dakotas State Wild Horse and Burro Specialist, at (406) 896-5223.

Noble and Naolin, July 2013
Noble and Naolin, July 2013

Below is the unsigned FONSI.  If I am understanding this right, this will be the proposal and will be signed if they don’t hear enough feedback suggesting other wise.

(Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range Fertility Control Modification Preliminary Environmental Assessment
Tiered to the
Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range/Territory Environmental Assessment And Herd Management Area Plan May 2009)

This unsigned FONSI and EA (DOI-BLM-MT-0010-2013-0034-EA) is to modify the current fertility control prescription and apply fertility control to nearly every mare on the PMWHR through 2015 in order to help maintain the appropriate management level of 90-120 wild horses and reduce the need for a large scale gather. The modification to the current prescription would begin in the fall of 2013 and last through 2015 (the life of the current prescription). The modification to the fertility control would consist of applying primer doses to in the fall to mares in the one year old age class (when they are not quite two) and any mare that has not ever been primed in the fall of 2013. Mares ages 5-10 years old that have offspring on the range that are one year old or older would be given a booster. The rest of the treatment would continue as currently is. This would continue in 2014 and 2015. Treatments would still be designed to treat mares before becoming pregnant which in the spring, however in 2014 and 2015 boosters would be applied any time of the year. The EA is available for a 30-day public review and comment period beginning on August 6, 2013, and will end on September 6, 2013. The documents are available on the Billings Field Office website at

Based on the analysis of potential environmental impacts in the attached EA and consideration of the significance criteria in 40 CFR 1508.27, I have determined that with proposed mitigating measures incorporated as part of the proposed action this would not result in significant impacts on the human environment. An environmental impact statement (EIS) is not required.

The decision to approve or deny a modification of the current fertility control prescription to mares within PMWHR, and if appropriate a signed FONSI with rationale, will be released after consideration of public comments and completion of the EA. 

Niobrara, June 2013
Niobrara, June 2013

While I am not opposed to using PZP, I am opposed to the overuse of it.

Last year most of the J, K and L girls got removed.  So that alone will make a huge difference to the upcoming years of foals.  This year we have begun to see the effects of PZP.  There have only been 15 (13 surviving) foals born compared to 25 last year.

Please read and please submit your comment letter.  Comments need to be in by September 6, 2013.


Logo designed by Amber Bushnell
Logo designed by Amber Bushnell

31 thoughts on “More PZP News Regarding The Pryor Herd

  • Thanks for your thoughts and the links Sandy. I saw that this was coming out, but hadn’t had time to check it out yet. I figured the #s of TCF followers would have an effect on what they would want to do, even if it’s not the best. A stampede is hard to stop. I think maybe the “across the board” idea is playing right into someone’s basic plan, anyway, or there would be more resistance. I may be wrong, and I hope I am.

    I also realize that the PZP will not work on all the mares, and they probably won’t be able to find some of them, like always (Thank God, or The Great Spirit). I just don’t really believe it’s necessary to “do something different” now, at the point where the current plan should really start being effective. I REALLY hope the experts who are handling this know what they are doing and have the best interest of the unique heritage of this herd at heart. There are lots of “pretty” wild horses throughout the west, but not so many duns and grullas with direct genetic linkage to the earliest horses to be returned to the continent so long ago.

    I’ll be watching for your thoughts as time passes, (keeping the deadline in mind), and hope we get to hear from the folks at the Mustang Center as well.

    • Thanks Linda. I will let you know if I have any other thoughts on this and I a positive I will! Of course there is only two actions that we can choose from: No Action, which keeps things as is or this absurd proposal, which I don’t agree with.

  • Not sure if you can answer this Sandy, but for how long as the BLM been managing the herd and the number of horses in the herd? Do you know how big the herd used to be before BLM interference? I can understand them not wanting an overpopulation of horses since I think the horses are restricted to one area of the mountain (there are fences?) but I’m guessing there were no fences back in the day. I’m just curious about the herd’s history.

  • Well there you go, I guess TCF got their wish and if this herd has to go through a very harsh winter then there will certainly be a dramatic drop in the population. Also, I believe there are more mountain lions on the Pryor’s and around the Big Horns than last year. These factors are unpredictable and cannot be planned on. Also, the BLM are slowly trying to get rid of the wild horses. I don’t care what they say. They are only trying to appease us wild horse lovers for now while they control the population using PZP until there are none left. We can thank TCF and the BLM for screwing around with this herd of special horses. These horses have survived for hundreds of years without the interference of government and drugs.
    Forgive me for my feelings, but are the BLM and TCF acting like they are Gods and making decisions for our precious wildlife. Take a look around at other wildlife and tell me that man is a better judge than Mother Nature. Man has screwed up everything he has tried to manage…with the exception of the human population…why do they not control that since we are the ones who are destroying this planet and the wild animals who live on it with us!!!!!!
    I do not support an increase in PZP. We are finally seeing the effects of the current PZP program since it has been implemented properly. Why not let this plan stay in effect?
    Personally, I would rather see gathers than not enough horses living wild and free on the range. If we control them out of existence, then we only have ourselves to blame. What a shame, and shame on TCF for putting this change to the current PZP plan into motion.
    Obviously, I like animals more than most people.

    • Yes, Lori, I think you are right. TCF got their wish. It actually gives me a big shiver up my spine. I still intend to make my comment and send it in, regardless if it does any good or not. We just can not give up.

  • No, BLM. Just no.
    First, we don’t know the long term effects of PZP…. how long it might take to wear off, especially regarding horses in this specific climate. I think we ought to wait and watch a while before we dart pretty much every mare on the range…

  • Too drastic, I don’t like it at all. Nature will always find a way (if you’ve seen Jurasic Park) 🙂 I believe that’s why so many 2yo fillies had foals last year.
    I agree with what Lori said, if there’s a harsh winter and mountain lions develop a taste for foals, this herd will be in danger. I don’t know what kind of winter is coming, but here in Califonia, we already have leaves changing colors. Not to mention the mares with only one or no offspring on the range, they should at least be off pzp. Hope Rhyden’s account for the Pryor herd back in the day was that the herd was small, not every mare foaled every year NATURALLY. I honestly don’t know why people feel the need to control everything.

    • I totally agree with you Clarissa and Kiya. Man’s interference and experimentation with this small herd is going to be disastrous. I do believe that Nature knows best and I also believe that this herd would naturally control their own population to ensure the survival of the species, heck, they have been doing it for many hundreds of years before man stepped in and decided how many horses could live on their “allotted, fenced in land.” And who do they think they are in making decisions without really knowing the consequences.
      They give us time to comment, but they still do what they want. It is just a legal formality that they have to go through.
      I can’t answer your question about “why people feel the need to control everything” except maybe Power, Ego & $$$$$$$!!! GREED.
      I do hope that Hope Ryden is following the happenings of this Pryor Herd!!! 🙂

    • I agree Clarissa. I keep reading it several times, not sure why it was repeated so much.

      “Scoping comments received were in two categories; (1) place more mares on fertility control but not like Assateague National Seashore and (2) continue with the current fertility prescription in place. Concern for animal welfare in relation to the use of PZP continues to be a concern and is addressed as part of the proposed action and SOPs. No new information or studies were provided that the BLM was not aware. No new issues were identified that were not addressed in the Proposed Action and No Action alternatives or that had not already been addressed in the 2009 HMAP and EA.”

      Not like the Assateague’s. Umm, well not far off from that plan. As I understand it the Assatuegues allow the mares to have one foal at the age of 5. Okay, with this plan it it would be:

      “Mares ages 5-10 years old that have offspring on the range that are one year old or older would be given a booster. ”

      Not sure how that falls into the “Not like Assteague”. I guess the age difference. Still seems as harsh to me.

      In 2010 TCF came out with a report (it used to be posted on their website, but has since been removed) about the negative effects that they observed from PZP. Fortunately I copied that report and plan to make a post. Not to slam TCF, but so everyone can see what their observations were just a few short years ago.

      I know TCF does not want any more gathers. But is that really realistic? In terms of genetics, I would say no. Then they will say “PZP can be reversed” but according to their 2010 document, they state otherwise. And who is to know for sure. They state several horses where it has not been able to be reversed.

      And what happens if there is a harsh winters?

      AND because of the small number of foals that MAY be born, will they also disappear because they will be stollen like Nacer, BECAUSE they are unable to have their own foals? (In the case of Baileys?!)

      Seems like and I agree with the comments above, that we are messing with mother nature too much.

      • I am in total agreement with you Sandy. While I even hate the idea of using PZP at all, I was cautiously in some kind of agreement with the current plan. I knew that they would do it anyway, so my point was to agree to disagree, but to monitor the situation. Now, they want more aggressive use of the DRUG so that each horse can only have one foal, but they state that this is to “control” the population even more!!
        There are only 13 foals born so far this year, and maybe more to be born out of season. There is a reason for the foals being born from March through July, and Mother Nature planned it that way so the forage would be good and the foals born would have a better chance to grow a little before the winter months…survival. So what do they want?? TWO foals born…how much more are they going to want until there are close to none born each year?? I do not agree with them on this and I hope there is an uprising from across America concerning this action that they want to take.
        I still and always will believe that Mother Nature knows what she is doing.
        We can’t predict what kind of winter’s will fall upon us here in the Rockies, and we can’t predict how many predators will be preying upon the horses. I say NO to this and will do my best to get the word out to whomever can make a difference!!

    • And we also have to consider the number of horses in their late teens and twenties. Though these horses are very healthy, they may not be around much longer. And also serious injury can result from Santa Fe dogging Coronado and Tecumseh dogging Gringo. So far these stallions are on terms, it may escalate in the future.

      • Very good point Clarissa! I was looking at the list just last week, thinking about how many of the current band stallions are in their late teens. It will be sad when some of the “key players” of this herd pass. There are some wonderful bachelor stallions that will no doubt take over…but without stallions to take their place, where will that go in say 20 years or even less?

  • Okay…so reading this I am in agreement they need to let the current plan run its course. Not PZP the entire herd!

    One question to those that are out there (more update on what I want to know). The buckskin Juniper, rare color (why they kept her out there). She is a “J” born in 2009, but she has yet to foal (that I know of)…was she given PZP? Or is she possibly infertile? 🙁 I hope not to both my questions she has been out there long enough but I am not aware that she looks pregnant or has had a foal.

    • Hi Gina,

      Juniper is only 4 so would be receiving PZP until the age of 5 (current plan). Although there were many that thought she looked pregnant this year and then all of a suddened looked thin with no foal.

      After what happened with Nacer, it made me think that perhaps this had happened to a number of other foals this year (there were a few others that looked pregnant and then not). Let’s reevaluate the Nacer situation. I believe these horses are under more stress with the adding of the fence (in the fall of 2010). They have a lot less land then just 3 years ago. Also, the PZP. Even with the current program there is stress from it. I bet if this new plan moves forward, we will see more “Nacers”. Mares that are unable to conceive may take other foals. We has humans need to tread carefully, or we will loss this herd completely.

      • Sandy,

        I agree a lot with what your saying, the Juniper situation I was curious because with Nacer being born from La brava she is younger and I a few other younger mares foaled that I wouldn’t have expected. But then again the whole PZP thing doesn’t seem to be consistent with the information provided…if it holds true La Brava should have had it…and won’t have a foal next year?

        Actually the situation with Nacer is not uncommon in animals in general…it was just a coincident I think that it was witnessed (may happen more often with the fence situation; which I will mention below). Then the concern was showed by us “Humans”. When new animals are born they have a general “No Scent” to them so it doesn’t attract predators right after birth when the mom and baby are so very vulnerable. Therefore with so many horses in the area at the time Nacer was born a lot of mares with natural motherly instincts feel the need to “Claim” the baby. We have seen this happen in our horses and cattle…even our pony tries to steal newborn calves!

        Your point though for the 2010 fences…this is making horses that normally do not coexist in such a small area are frequently crossing territories more often than not and foals are being born to close to other herds with constant supervision of other stallions not wanting other horses to get to close ( a lot of young stallions with new herds…constantly trying to keep them right now). In any horse…wild or domestic you must think of when a new foal is is an instant curiosity to the other horses…in the wild though mom and baby must have a chance to bond…Nacer wasn’t given that opportunity and La Brava was to young to know it was her job to fend off all the other horses and outrank her current stallion (can’t think of his name top of my head) to get her foal.

        I hope all of what I said makes sense, I see a lot of things happening on the Pryors right now and it is human related but unfortunately we will be seeing more I am sure and the reduced range and fences are not helping.

        I can’t agree or disagree with the PZP (other than it should not be used on the entire herd as suggested)…I think more studies need to be done and published to the public. If the PZP worked like it was suppose to I do prefer it over horse removal.

        OK I will stop rambling…but something to think about.

    • Thank you very much for you comment. I appreciate hearing your opinion. I agree with you, I would rather have a PZP program in place (like the current one) than have so many removals. But the current programs needs to be left in place long enough to see results.

      Yes, you are right. La Brava never should have conceived. (but she would not have been given PZP as a yearling). She was only a yearling when bred, and for whatever reason that seems to be happening more and more (some feel it is the PZP or the removals that make the horses want to reproduce more). And with my calculations of when she conceived, would put it smack dap in the middle of when the removals were happening on top of the mountain. That certainly is something to think about too.

      Thanks again. You can ramble all you want. I appreciate the comments very much! 🙂

  • I really think nature should take care of itself and we humans should not interfere, both with the PZP and the habitat.
    I am positive that Nacer lost her mother and her chance to live because of the other mares being jealous.

    • Hi Thora, I am not so sure jealous would be the word that we should choose. As there are a lot of people out there that do not like “human emotions” attached to wild animals. So let’s make it more “acceptable” by choosing a word like “instinct” or “need to reproduce”. Because it is clear that the mares that took Nacer (first Rosarita and Polaris, then Bailey in Bolders band) could have been doing that. Since none of them have been able to reproduce (in recent years) as a result of the PZP.
      Thank you for your comment.

  • Hi Sandy,
    Thank you for the post.
    With the aggressive PZP program, the Herd may be become unhealthy and eventually disappeared. The effect of the PZP plan has shown the result this year. Next year the numbers of foals being born will be a lot less.
    BLM shall monitor the result of the current PZP program for a long period of time before acting on any risky changes.
    If BLM wants each mare has only one foal then the Herd will be die-out in the near future.
    Sandy, I have similar thought as yours about Nacer heartbreak situation.
    Mares and stallions might be under stress for not having their off-springs so they steal foals from other mares. In the result foals cannot be survived in such situations.
    The behavior of the horses was affected by human interference (such as PZP program…and
    other activities).

    I hope BLM will consider different options to keep the herd healthy and exist on the Pryor Mountains for many years to come.

  • While I do not really like or agree with the use of PZP, it is the lesser of two evils! I think the current program should stay in place as we are now seeing results of it’s use.
    I would rather see the BLM start from the other side of the spectrum instead of the one path that they are on with control and management. My theory is this: Spend the taxpayer’s money on range improvements, range expansion (cutting the red tape, so to speak) and take the ugly fence down on top of the mountain giving this land back to the horses. If all of these things were achieved then there would be no need for PZP or removals. Why can’t they do the right thing for the horses by helping them, instead of trying to figure out ways to stop their population growth? Give them more land and improve the range that they live on.

  • I understand why TCF is agreeing with the PZP. They are trying to get the BLM to stop capturing the horses. Once they can be convinced of that, then we can work on getting rid of the PZP. I hate the idea of PZP but if it will get the BLM to leave the horses alone, its a compromise im willing to make until further negotiations works. TCF if making a compromise, and I would bet they are not happy about that, but if it means the remaining horses wont live their lives in holding pens, torn apart from their families, then so be it.

    • Thank you for your comment Maya. This is not about agreeing or disagreeing about PZP. It is for an asking for an extreme increase in an already PZP program.
      This is not just an normal wild horse herd. The genetics in this herd or only one of 2-3 in the US. If the genetics are lost because of a “to aggressive” PZP, they may never be able to get them back.

      • Everything you say here is correct Sandy and I for one do NOT support any change to a program that we are now seeing the effects of. An extreme program could be devastating to this herd.
        We, or should I say “they” have already altered the natural selection of this herd and this action will have negative effects on this herd for years to come. There have been other studies done on the effects of pzp use, but it seems the blm only post information from J Kirkpatrick. Try reading some of the written documentations from Jason Ransom’s 10 year study of the effects of pzp use on the Pryor Horses. Sometimes this does not reverse, and sometimes it does. There are cases documented on this subject.
        The blm will not leave the horses alone no matter what Maya.
        What needs to be done is to leave the horses alone and expand their range. This range can support more horses. Who did the studies? There needs to be independent studies done (not by blm) and raise the AML. Then just study the horses for say 10 years while they adjust their own population. Does man know better than mother nature? I THINK NOT!!!!

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