Ennis area ranch, BLM show off wild horses
The Bureau of Land Management gave us inside look at a southwest Montana ranch that's now home to some 700 wild horses.
We traveled more than an hour southwest of Bozeman to the Spanish Q Ranch outside of Ennis to see the Bureau of Land Management's wild horse management efforts.
There are 710 horses with 12,600 acres to roam. We had to travel about 20 minutes back up a remote mountain to find them.
It is a long-term pasture under a federal government contract. There are 24 across the United States, but this is one of the first of its kind in Montana.
"So interesting, it has probably been the most interesting winter I have spent for a long time. It's great," said Karen Rice.
Karen and her husband Greg own the land where the horses roam. They tell us they love having the horses on their property and hope the program lasts. However there have been some concerns about other wildlife.
"One of the major wildlife concerns is the diet overlap between horses and elk since they both prefer grasses," said Katie Benzel.
Benzel is a wildlife biologist who told us they have measures in place to make sure those things aren't a problem: "We've set up vegetation monitors in all of the pastures repairing areas and in the uplands."
Officials we spoke to from the Bureau of Land Management say their have been five different appeals locally.
However, the Rices tell us they are hopeful others can see the bigger picture.
"We look at this as long-term. This is a 10-year contract but we are hoping if the program is still in effect at the end of 10 years, that we would like to still have the horses on it. We look at it as a way to save this property for our grandkids," said Karen Rice.