Pryor Mountain Roundup – 9/6/2009
September 20, 2009
Tom and I were not at this roundup from the beginning. We arrived Sunday morning, September 6th, 2009. My posts will focus on the four days we were actually there and what we witnessed first hand to the best of my memory.
We left Worland, WY (near the Fifteen Mile HMA) before dawn in hopes we wouldn’t miss much of the day’s activities if we managed to get to the Britton Springs facility by 7:00 AM. However, at 7:00 AM, there was no one else in the parking lot when we arrived at the corrals. A BLM employee met us at the entrance and informed us that nothing would be happening until the “morning briefing” at 9:00 AM. She explained that we needed to stay behind the barrier, handed us a map with printed instructions and said we were free to use the porta-potties before she left and headed back to the main building.
I had read on Matt Dillon’s Pryor Wild Blog that most of the Dryhead (lower area) horses had already been processed and released. We decided to head over to Bighorn Canyon in search of some of those horses until time for the briefing. There were some wildlife sightings along the way.
We drove the entire length of the horse range through Bighorn Canyon. We didn’t see a single horse. On the return trip, we spotted Seattle’s band high on a hill. Though they looked fine, they appeared very lethargic. None of the horses moved while we were there. I snapped a few photos and then we headed back to Britton Springs.
Briefing began and we learned that operations had been underway since early morning to transport captured Forest Service horses to the holding facility. They were to be permanently removed from their home. The news was both sad and frustrating. The BLM employee who spoke with us in the morning did not provide us with this information. Tom and I had time to get up to that area had we known anything was going on. A deliberate effort to mislead us? Not a day into the experience and we’d already been subjected to less than forthright tactics? It was a very disappointing notion to say the least.
We started up Crooked Creek towards the Forest Service area. We didn’t get very far before we ran into other observers coming down the mountain. Things had wrapped up on the Forest Service side and the helicopter was set to start gathering horses from the Burnt Timber area. We all went back to Britton Springs.
While we waited for the helicopter to bring the horses down, we were allowed a walk-through of the corrals to view horses already in holding.
We waited for hours while the helicopter was at Burnt Timber. The pilot would have to chase the horses down approximately 10 miles of steep and rocky terrain to reach the holding facility. All the while the horses would try to dodge, circle back or outrun the loud and scary machine overhead. Who knows how many miles that added to their trip down the mountain.
BLM personnel got the call that the helicopter was close by. Our group of observers was escorted to the ridge where we could watch the horses being manuevered down by the helicopter. I wasn’t sure how I’d react to the sight, so I tried to mentally prepare myself. The first band of horses to come in was Chino’s, a buckskin stallion easily recognizable by his scarce color in the Pryors.
Then it was Bolder’s band being herded towards the corrals. (Bolder is the dark palomino-colored son of Cloud)
The day ended with an escort out to the parking area, through the gate and out onto the road. No one from the public could remain on the grounds past 5:00 PM. It was evident that for us, the roundup would take place between the hours of 9-5:00. Strange to maintain such normal working hours for an event that was anything but business as usual.
(More to follow…)