Wyoming’s Red Desert Wild Horses

November 28, 2009

I’m a bit behind – these images were taken on a very bright (terrible light for picture taking), sunny day in September before the roundup. Tom and I visited the Green Mountain and Stewart Creek HMAs; part of the Red Desert Complex. We entered from the Bairoil side and came upon horses almost immediately.

A handsome grey boy

These guys seemed completely undisturbed by us. Strange. They're usually very flighty.

And as we continued west on the road out of Bairoil, we found some more horses headed to a creek for a drink.

Coming out of the creek

These are bachelor stallions

This stallion called out to the grey horses so I assumed he must be a member of the small band

And he was followed by another stallion

Together again, they all took off over a hill

This family wanted nothing to do with me even though I hung back because of the youngsters

A lounging antelope buck

As we were driving down a 2-track road, I noticed something in the brush quite a ways from us.

Most likely a cow I thought, but I wanted to be sure so I started hiking

This sage grouse shot up in front of me as I was walking out - they are so well camouflaged!

It was not a cow - it was a beautiful black stallion and he hadn't been gone very long.

We looked around for any signs of trauma or shell casings. We didn’t find anything that would indicate how this boy died. I always document what I find and based on some photos I took of the teeth, I was told he was probably only around eight years old. I’m always amazed at the feet of the wild horses. They’re always in such remarkable condition.

A perfectly designed wild horse hoof

We continued on and came upon another band of bachelors

The markings of the middle horse were so unique - the upside down V on his neck and his gorgeous stockings

Such harsh lighting for such beautiful horses.

This was a large bachelor band

A parting shot of a large band of horses at Stewart Creek

I sent an e-mail to the BLM field office in charge of the Red Desert Complex about the recent roundup. Below are the answers I received (my questions in italics):

Number of horses gathered: 1232
Number of mares PZP’d (what type): 193; all mares received the primer (1 cc liquid vaccine) and the booster (slow time-released pellets).
Number of horses released: 387 (of course this number does not accurately reflect the current populations of the Herd Management Areas as all horses were not gathered)
Number of fatalities: 12, however, 5 of these were not gather-related fatalities. Five horses were humanely euthanized due to serious, pre-existing conditions.
Where were the horses taken? Most of the horses were taken to either the Rock Springs, WY or the Canon City, CO horse facilities. A few horses were taken directly to the Honor Farm in Riverton, Wyoming.

(Photos are for viewing purposes only. Images are copyright protected and owned solely by Pam Nickoles Photography. No reproduction permitted.)

17 Responses to “Wyoming’s Red Desert Wild Horses”

  1. Gabriele Moritz Says:

    Hello Pam, the information and questions in regard to the round-up I find very practical, even though they might be available by the BLM if one wanted to know. It just keeps the inner image growing and understanding.
    Thank you.

  2. jan eaker Says:

    Thanks again, Pam, for the pictures and information, I wonder how many of these beauties are now lost forever to the corrals of the BLM;

  3. Thanks for more from this wild herd. They took far more horses than I guessed, and they had caught more. Why so many died?

  4. Deby Zimmerman Says:

    Hi Pam,
    What area of the Red Desert were you at when you took these photos??? Anywhere near Baggs?? That Arrow point marked stallion, with the knee-hi’s is the most beautiful of them all. I hope he is still running free with all the rest you photographed. I feel bad for the stallion you found that died, but at least he died free…. Sure wish BLM would take a hint from the Islands of Hawaii and Unalaska, up in the Aleutian chain, and get out of MIS-“managing” the wild horses. The horses on those two ISLANDS are NOT under BLM control and are healthy, not overpopulating, or destroying or overeating their ranges. They are not tame, but ARE used to humans much the same as animals at those drive thru game parks…none are tame or halter broke, but will (in Alaska) come up for a carrot, which is the ONLY treat they are allowed, otherwise they live TOTALLY without human intervention, and quite nicely too. I hope you continue your documentations of the mustangs here as they need your photos to be seen by others to know what is happening to them. Thank you for all you do for them, your photos are always beautifully done, even the ones you criticize….you STILL show the beauty of the animals…Thank you for sharing.

  5. pnickoles Says:

    Thanks everyone for your comments. I appreciate your feedback.

    Deby – We were north of Baggs and I-80. Here is a link to a map of the Wyoming HMA’s which will give you a better idea of where we were: http://www.blm.gov/pgdata/etc/medialib/blm/wy/programs/wildhorses/maps.Par.0938.File.dat/hmas04-ebook.pdf

    And here is a link to a BLM page that talks about the number of horses taken off the ranges this Fall: http://www.blm.gov/wy/st/en/info/news_room/2009/november/23gathers.html

    I certainly hope the black boy with the upside down V (or arrow) and the stockings was released. You’re right, he’s a beauty. He also has a stripe across his hindquarters that doesn’t show up in the photos. He’d be easy to pick out again and I’ll look for him next time we’re out for sure.

  6. IRENE Says:

    Thank you, Pam for the beautiful pictures. It saddens me that so many horses were rounded up – BLM I just dont have much positive to say.

  7. Craig Downer Says:

    Great photos. Hope they can remain forever wild and free!

  8. Oh Pam, those pictures are fantastic!! I don’t think the lighting hurt them at all!! Matter of fact the few where the background is whited out just makes the horses stand out all the more! Great job on such beauties!! So sad for the young stallion… Thank you for all you guys do!

  9. pnickoles Says:

    That would be a wonderful thought Craig – thanks for all the work you’re doing to try to make that possible for the Calico Complex horses. I hope your efforts win their freedom from roundup!

  10. pnickoles Says:

    Thank you so much Michelle. 🙂

  11. pnickoles Says:

    Irene – thanks so much for your comments and I understand how you feel.

  12. brittny budde Says:

    Man,those boys are beautiful

  13. kathy prokop Says:

    you took some great pictures pam its a pity they have to round them up.

  14. kathy prokop Says:

    great pictures , i enjoyed looking at them its too bad we cant stop the round ups. alot of them are slaughtered.

  15. Linda Horn Says:

    Pam, this was just posted by Shari Walsh on “Celebrate the Horse”. Do you think Laura meant Bairoil? “Laura Wise: Today The BLM is rounding up mustangs in Barrel Oil Wyoming about 30 miles from me. They had about 100 rounded up so far. They ran these mustangs about 20 miles HARD. There were no BLM management there just the contractors. Im not for sure who they are just that they are from Nevada. They had 3 helicopters there. Could you spread the word”

  16. pnickoles Says:

    It’s possible Linda – I know they are rounding up horses in Great Divide Basin, possibly Red Desert as well then (which would include Green Mtn and Stewart Creek). 😦

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