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Billings Field Office
Release Date: 02/08/11
Contacts: Mary Apple 406-896-5258    

Harsh Winter Weather Causes Concern for Wild Horses

Weeks of harsh winter weather has prompted Bureau of Land Management officials to take a close look at the condition of wild horses on the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range. The agency has been monitoring the wild horses from the ground throughout the winter, but limited entrances into the range and the heavy snow cover have restricted access.

Last week, agency personnel from the Billings Field Office loaded into a helicopter to fly the range in order to assess the overall condition of the wild horse herd and to evaluate available forage.  The herd is spread out over the lower half of the range but seems to be doing fine. 

“Overall, they are doing fairly well, but there are individuals that look thin. However, considering the severity of the winter to date, the wild horses are not in an emergency situation,” said Jared Bybee, Wild Horse and Burro Specialist at the Billings Field Office. 

Billings Field Manager Jim Sparks is concerned that well-meaning members of the public may be tempted to feed the wild horses, especially since emergency feeding of starving domestic horses is occurring on private lands in Carbon and Yellowstone counties. He stressed that feeding the wild horses could prove fatal to the animals. 

“Horses that are lean and do not have access to water are not able to digest even the best grass hay” says Sparks. In the winter, wild horses in the Pryors stay hydrated by consuming snow or drinking snowmelt.

Agency personnel will continue to monitor conditions and collect information on the wild horses through the winter and another flight will be scheduled soon.

For more information, contact Jared Bybee, Wild Horse and Burro Specialist at  (406) 896-5223.

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM's mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. In Fiscal Year 2015, the BLM generated $4.1 billion in receipts from activities occurring on public lands.

Billings Field Office   5001 Southgate Drive      Billings, MT 59101  

Last updated: 08-17-2012