Die, Pony, Die

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Images courtesy of the Nokota Horse Conservancy

Your action is requested!  Please see the end of the article for details.

DIE, PONY, DIE –

TRNP (Theodore Roosevelt National Park) Wild Horse Management Plan

For the last 40 years, Leo and Frank Kuntz have been involved in helping to preserve a historically genetic and threatened type of horse, the Nokota®, the horse of the Northern Plains natives. There are less than a thousand of this type of horse alive today.

This horse was a gift to the Plains natives from their creator. The horse pulled their travois, the buffalo horse was for hunting, and the most prized was the war horse, the fastest and strongest.

During the mid-1800s, policy was to destroy everything when the military took a village. Homes, clothing and food were burned and many of their horses were shot or their throats slit.

Even after the natives were put on reservations, the cavalry was sent in to round-up the native type horse under the premise they were carrying disease and either shoot them or sent them to auction.

This type of horse was in the TRNP when it was fenced in the early 1950s. Park policy then became total elimination of the horses in the Park. Box canyon type round-ups were attempted, with little success; hay was poisoned and fed; local ranchers were hired to rope some and others were shot.

Fortunately, some local residents and others asked ND congressional delegates in DC to help. The TRNP decided to keep the horses as a historical demonstration herd.

This all changed in the late 1970s and early 1980s. TRNP superintendent Harvey Wickware made the decision to change the geno- and phenotype of the wild horse herd. They introduced domestic studs (quarter horse, shire-cross, and an Arabian) who could not compete with the wild native studs to keep and maintain a mare band. So policy became the removal of the Native wild studs, allowing the introduced domestic studs to make an impact on the herd. They did this by using helicopters and outriders to roundup the wild horses. Their first attempt in the early 1980s was a total disaster. They lost a number of horses running long distances in the heat.

During subsequent roundups, the TRNP targeted the native type studs and lead mares. At the 1986 roundup, Leo and Frank Kuntz purchased 52 head at the TRNP wild horse auction. There they also met Castle McLaughlin, who at the time was working as an intern with the TRNP, and who in 1987 was given a grant to research the history of the wild horses in TRNP, which was funded in part by a grant from the Theodore Roosevelt Nature and History Association. Dr. Castle McLaughlin is currently associate curator of North American ethnography at Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology.

Her chronicled research showed that the wild horses in TRNP were descended from the Northern Plains natives and the turn of the century ranch horses, with strong historical connections to Sitting Bull and his sub chiefs, the Marquis deMores (founder of the town of Medora, ND), Theodore Roosevelt (rancher in western ND and US President), and AC Huidekoper (who ran the largest horse ranch in the world at one time near Amidon, ND). In the 1991 TRNP roundup, The Kuntz brothers were successful at getting the national park to start blood testing their horses and to take out the introduced domestic studs, but what the TRNP didn’t tell people was that most of the shire cross’ offspring were left in the Park. It was suggested that inbreeding could become a problem with the response being that they knew what they were doing.

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Blood work was done only on horses that were being sold. The TRNP sold 62 head of horses and the brothers bought 11 that were the old native type.

The blood was sent to Dr. Gus Cothran at the University of Kentucky. There were 10 horses he called TRNP old-line, adding that they were “extremely divergent” from any other domestic breed.

In 2009, the TRNP started using an experimental contraceptive drug called GonaCon, requiring a yearly injection to prevent pregnancy. They began to study the herd to see what effects the drug was having regarding social structure. The study’s credibility is questionable.

The TRNPs last 40 years of ‘management’ (or mismanagement as it were) has resulted in a horse herd with less genetic diversity and the changing of a historically correct geno- and phenotype horse, as well as culling the younger horses which will result in an older herd dying off of old age, especially with the continued use of the experimental drug GonaCon.

In a report called Genetic diversity and origin of the feral horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, published on Aug 1, 2018, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0200795, it states, “It is recommended that new genetic stock be introduced and that adaptive management principles are employed to ensure that unique mitochondrial lineages are preserved and genetic diversity is increased and maintained over time”.

This is a national park. They should NOT be breeding into extinction a genetically, historically correct horse.  There is a need for an interpretive center on the horses, and the slow reintroduction of the Nokota® horses back into the TRNP.

Now is the time for the TRNP to do their job … and their job is to do what is right!  The TRNP should reintroduce the type of horse that was there before and when the park was fenced, which is the Nokota® horse.

It is time to acknowledge the Northern Plains people’s history, horses, and horse culture. The Native peoples’ unique history and culture is a very important part of this Nation’s history.

The Nokota® horses need your help. Please contact Blake McCann, TRNP Wildlife Biologist at blake@nps.gov and Superintendent Wendy Ross at (701) 623-4466 and ask them to do what is right for the horses.

Frank Kuntz

Executive Director & Co-founder, Nokota Horse Conservancy®

If you would like more information about this topic, please call Frank Kuntz at 701-321-2320.

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Breaking News: Wild Horse Abuse in Utah Facility

Inhumane wild horse management plagues BLM Utah facilities

Lisa Friday followup report exposes more mustang abuse

 

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (November 11, 2011) – The Cloud Foundation (TCF) has received a report from wild horse advocate, Lisa Friday, regarding the conditions of two Bureau of Land Management (BLM) wild horse holding facilities in Utah. Friday was following up on the wild horses she found living in squalor at the Herriman holding facility outside Salt Lake, who have been moved to other facilities in the state. Despite finding the horses living in clean pens with plenty of hay, Friday’s report contains stills and video which reveal more inhumane treatment of wild horses.

 

“I saw captive wild horses in Utah with severely long, curled hooves,” explains Friday. “Dozens of mustangs were very lame with shocking sled-runner feet. When I asked why their feet were not trimmed I was told they did not have the funding to hire a professional farrier and were just beginning to ‘train’ a fellow to trim hooves. I would like to see the two facilities (Delta & Gunnison) allocate funding to have the mustangs’ feet cared for by a professional. The facilities have a paid public relations specialist on staff but no professional farrier to care for the horses. Their priorities are mixed up.”

 

In March of this year, Friday revealed wild horses living in knee-deep mud, manure and urine with no dry place to lie down at the Herriman facility. As a result of her video, released by TCF, and subsequent BLM reviews, the facility is closed for the winter with plans to close  permanently within the next two years.

 

Friday was not permitted to take pictures or video when she visited the Gunnison Correctional Facility on October 27th, however she reports seeing the same long, uncared for hooves and lameness. She even saw an inmate riding a lame mustang with severely long toes.

 

“This is definitely gross neglect,” states Dr. Lisa Jacobson, an equine veterinarian in Clyde Park, Montana who examined Friday’s photographs. “There is no excuse for allowing hooves to be in this crippling state.”

 

Friday took pictures of 20 or more captive wild horses in the Delta Facility with severely curled hooves and reported that the Gunnison facility had the same problems. Horses in the care of private citizens are often trimmed every 6-8 weeks. Hoof health is essential for horse health.

 

“I have never seen wild horses in the BLM Canon City, Colorado holding and training facility with hoof problems like those in Lisa’s pictures,” explains Ginger Kathrens, Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation, who has been visiting the Colorado facility for the past 13 years. “BLM schedules all horses for regular hoof care every two months or so in Canon City. If Utah cannot do the same, they should not have horses warehoused there.”

 

Friday also discovered a bay mare (Neck tag #7081) in the Delta facility with a very severe-looking eye condition. The veterinarian for the facility did not know what had caused the problem. Eye problems in horses can cause blindness. Two weeks later, the condition has yet to be diagnosed or treated.

 

“I visited a holding facility and adoption center this year in Mississippi,” says Friday.  “All the horses seemed very well taken care of—quite a contrast with the Utah facilities.”

 

Friday attended the Winter Ridge roundup near Vernal, Utah two months ago. She wanted to check in on those horses now in holding who were shipped to the Delta facility. She was shocked to see a lot of the wild horses were not freeze branded and did not have ID tags.

 

“Why weren’t the Winter Ridge horses branded and wearing their ID tags? asks Lisa Friday. “Without indentification, captured wild horses are at risk of slipping into the slaughter pipeline. What’s going on here?”

 

In August, a trailer was stopped at a port of entry outside of Helper, Utah under suspicious circumstances and 64 BLM mustangs bound for slaughter in Mexico were impounded.

 

# # #

 

Media Contacts:

 

Anne Novak

415-531-8454

Anne@TheCloudFoundation.org

 

Lauryn Wachs

617-894-6939

Lauryn@TheCloudFoundation.org

 

Links of Interest:

 

Lisa Friday’s Report: 

http://bit.ly/spHCeh

Lisa Friday’s video: 

http://bit.ly/rzTBGL

Slaughter Bust–Mustang Killer Buyer Indictment: 

http://bit.ly/px8pvg

Video report from Herriman Facility (April 2011) http://bit.ly/tevV3H