Founder of Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary passes away at 93

Dayton O. “Hawk” Hyde. Photo credit @runningwildfilm

Author of more than a dozen books and founder of the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary, Dayton O. “Hawk” Hyde, has passed away at 93.

Hyde lived an incredible life and dedicated himself to wildlife and a love of the land.

At the age of thirteen, Hyde hitched a ride on a freight train to travel across the country to his Uncle’s ranch in Oregon.

He had no money and had never been more than sixty miles from his childhood home in Marquette, M.I. nor had he ever ridden a horse.

But Hyde had been enticed by a letter from his Uncle telling him about how the ranch had just captured thirty wild horses and they were working on breaking them.

Hyde went on to become a rodeo rider, clown, and photographer: with photos published in Life Magazine.

Hyde published numerous fiction and nonfiction books, many of which earned literary awards.

He also worked hard to push for environmental and conservation efforts. He was honored by the National Cattleman’s Association as Environmentalist of the Year and named Conservationist of the Year by three different Oregon governors.

Photo credit @runningwildfilm

But Hyde considered one of his hardest-earned accomplishments to be the establishment of the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary.

Hyde founded the sanctuary in 1988, which took in wild horses from overpopulated herds and poor circumstances. It now covers 11,000 acres of prairie and attracts visitors from around the world.

Dayton O. “Hawk” Hyde passed away on Dec. 22, 2018 surrounded by friends and family. According to Susan Watt’s, the executive director of BHWHS, Hyde’s legacy will live on through the sanctuary.

“With the passing of Dayton O. Hyde the world has lost the greatest modern contributor to the care of the wildlife and the planet. With your continued support, the wild horses will always run free here on this Sanctuary.”

If you would like to donate to the Dayton O. Hyde Memorial Fund or BHWHS in general, you can visit the sanctuary’s website at


Categories: Local News, South Dakota News