Lori Graham with wild horse

All wild horses adopted at BLM auction

A small group of wild horse advocates lined up to bid on the horses on Saturday. Most sold for less than $500, with the highest bid at $2,300, for a very striking buckskin mare and her foal.

Lori Graham with wild horse
In less than a week, Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Center Director Lori Graham had the colt Kaibab, pictured above, and his companion Liesl eating out of her hand after they were adopted by the center at an auction held last weekend. The two wild horses were gathered by the BLM earlier this summer and will be kept in a pasture near the center so that visitors to the area can see wild horses.

“As was the case with the gather itself, I think that the adoption also went very well – Every horse was adopted,” commented wild horse advocate Matt Dillon on his blog.  “It’s hard to describe in meaningful words just how successful I thought that the 2012 gather and adoption turned out.  It was the reflection of a lot of very hard work from a number of dedicated individuals from the BLM, NPS and other agencies and groups during the past couple of months, and we should all be very appreciative of this.”

Some attending the auction said Dillon saved the day when he provided bidders with very personalized narrative about certain horses during a second round of bidding on horses after they were not bid on in the first round.

The Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Center was among those adopting horses at the event. The center used $550 of its budget to purchase two horses for an educational display near the center. An additional $3,000 went to build the required facilities to house the horses. Donations of labor, feed and the loving hands of many volunteers made the center’s goal to create a living educational display a reality.

Kaibab, a two-year old gelding was one of the two horses adopted by the center. He was gathered from Custer’s band and his mother is named Fiasco. The colt has striking grullo coloring and classic Spanish markings. He is diminutive in build and his friendly personality pairs well with his new companion, a yearling female named Liesl.

Liesl was noted by the BLM to be in “very poor condition due to hardships on the range” at the time she was gathered. A veterinarian at Britton Springs Corrals determined that she is for the most part blind.

PMWHC director Lori Graham responded to her immediately when she saw her at Britton Springs and made it a goal to adopt her.

“As it turns out, she is functionally blind according to the vet and now it makes sense why she got picked on by the other horses on the range and she probably never had a normal life to run and play with the other babies,” said Graham. “This is going to be a great life for her here, I think the best possible life for her. She is safe now and will be well-cared for and loved.”

Liesl was adopted for a mere $125 after she was picked up in the lower Sykes area of the Dryhead far away from her mother Greta who is part of the mountain herd in Garcia’s band. Kaibab was adopted for a slightly higher price. Graham said she assumes Liesl was separated from her mother at a very early age while the two were wintering in the lower range.

In less than a week, Graham had the two horses eating out of her hand. Literally. Graham said she watched the condition of both horses improve during their stay at Britton Springs Corrals and expects them to flourish in their new home, as they adjust to a diet of plenty of nutrition packed food.

Already, numerous visitors have benefited from seeing the horses up close in a corral located next to the center, which serves as an educational resource for visitors to the area.

The BLM successfully adopted out all 38 adult wild horses and seven foals at the special auction held at Britton Springs Corrals near Lovell. All of the horses were gathered during a six-week bait-trap gather on the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range (PMWHR), which straddles the Wyoming/Montana border.

“The success of this bait-trap gather and adoption is largely due to the great working relationships the Billings Field Office has with the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Center and public,” Field Manager Jim Sparks said.  “The Pryor herd has a very passionate public following and the BLM appreciates that – we can’t manage the herd alone.”

This is the first time a bait-trap method was used exclusively to gather what the BLM had deemed “excess wild horses” from the range. The determination to gather the horses was conducted in accordance with the Environmental Assessment and Decision Record for a 2012 non-helicopter gather of wild horses within the PMWHR. The decision involved extensive public involvement and paid heed to the recommendations of wild horse advocates.

The Environmental Assessment conducted by the BLM analyzed the effects of the decision to conduct a non-helicopter gather to remove excess wild horses within the PMWHR.  According to information released by the BLM, the field office received about 1,000 individual comment letters and 63 unique comments on the preliminary Environmental Assessment, and considered those when making the final decision.

“Really, this entire operation of selective removal through baiting is unprecedented for the BLM,” Wild Horse Specialist Jared Bybee said.  “We actually gathered and handled about 150 wild horses without injuries or incidents involving the wild horses, the public or BLM staff.” The gather and adoption operation, which includes the holding, care and feeding of the removed excess wild horses, was conducted by BLM and National Park Service personnel.

By Patti Carpenter