Despite the Modoc National Forest still closed due to fire concerns, the U.S. Forest Service is moving forward with the roundup and removal of wild horses from California’s largest wild horse herd.
The Devil’s Garden Wild Horse Territory (WHT) is in Northern California’s Modoc National Forest and is managed by the Forest Service, not the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The Forest Service currently estimates that as of 2021 there are an estimated 1,926 adult horses in and around the territory. However, the Forest Service’s unscientifically low Appropriate Management Level (AML) for the HMA – the number of horses the agency claims that the range can sustainably support in conjunction with other animals and resource uses – is 206-402 horses.
While the Forest Service notes that this operation is necessary to address unsustainable impacts on aquatic resources, wildlife, hunting, grazing and other traditional cultural practices, at the same time the Forest Service continues to authorize thousands of cows to graze in the WHT.
It is time for the Forest Service to manage wild horse habitat for the wild horses.
This roundup will cost the taxpayers at least $708,000 thousand to just roundup these 600 beloved horses from the WHT. After their removal, 200 will head to BLM-managed corrals and 400 will head to the Forest Service’s only corral, Double Devil. Thus, the removal will also bring along with it the lifetime cost of approximately $30,000,000 million to house these horses for the remainder of their lives in government-holding corrals with either BLM or the Forest Service. The contractor for this roundup is Cattoor Livestock Roundups.
On top of that, the taxpayer foots the bill for federally subsidized livestock grazing on public lands as well. The federal grazing fee remains at its historic low of $1.35 per animal per month. That’s a steep discount, thanks to the taxpayer subsidies that prop up this federal entitlement program. (Estimates indicate that the overall cost to taxpayers for the federal grazing program could be as much as $500 million annually.
Helicopters are scheduled to fly starting on September 15, 2021. We will update this report as the operation progresses.