Wild Horse Group Sounds Alarm Over Feds’ Plan to Sell CA Wild Horses for $1

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AWHC Charges:  “Forest Service is treating national treasures like trash.”

Alturas, CA (December 18, 2018) …The nation’s leading wild horse advocacy organization, the American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC), today blasted the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) for its plan to begin selling off federally-protected wild horses in California for just a dollar a piece beginning this week. The horses in question were recently rounded up from the Devil’s Garden Wild Horse Territory in the Modoc National Forest near Alturas, CA.

The USFS is already facing massive public condemnation and criticism from federal and state officials, including U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, over its plan to offer horses for sale without limitation on slaughter, which it has delayed until February 18 in response to a lawsuit filed by AWHC and the Animal Legal Defense Fund. The $1-a-piece sale, beginning Monday, will be done “with limitation on slaughter,” although AWHC says the “fire sale price” increases the profit motive for buyers to launder horses into the slaughter pipeline.

“The Forest Service is treating these national treasures like trash by selling them for one dollar a piece, sending a strong message that our cherished wild horses throwaway animals who lack value,” said Suzanne Roy, AWHC Executive Director. “This irresponsible move makes these wild horses vulnerable to purchase by individuals with ill intent, and ignores the wishes of 80 percent of Americans who want wild horses protected on our public lands, not slaughtered.”

The horses being sold are those over age 10. They are currently held at the Double Devil Corrals in the Modoc National Forest, where the Forest Service has been offering them for sale for $25 a piece with limitation on slaughter.

"The sale of wild horses for $1 a piece is unprecedented in federal wild horse management, and  renders the restrictions of sale with limitation meaningless," said Brieanah Schwartz, Policy Counsel for AWHC. "Not only are the horses being sold at a price that makes them essentially valueless, but also the Forest Service has absolutely no measures in place to enforce the sale with limitations restrictions."

According to AWHC, without such enforcement measures, these new sales terms will only encourage kill buyers to purchase the horses and transport them across the border for slaughter in Canada or Mexico. As a result, AWHC is calling for immediate oversight measures including public review of all applications for five or more horses at a time before the horses are sold.  

“This unprecedented policy change comes without any opportunity for public input and highlights the agency's disregard for the value of  these federally-protected animals, which Americans overwhelmingly want preserved on our public lands,” continued Schwartz.

Compounding the growing concern about the welfare of the Devil’s Garden horses is the fact that management and care of the horses at the Double Devil Corrals is being handled by the Modoc County Farm Bureau and supervised by  a UC Cooperative Extension Agent, who has been a vocal supporter of horse slaughter, even going so far as to recently raise funds online for Protect the Harvest, a pro-horse slaughter lobbying group. None of the personnel overseeing horse management have wild horse experience.  Their incompetence and inexperience was on full display at the recent adoption/sale event.

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The American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) is a national wild horse advocacy organization whose grassroots mission is endorsed by a coalition of more than 60 horse advocacy, public interest, and conservation organizations. AWHC is dedicated to preserving the American wild horse in viable, free-roaming herds for generations to come, as part of our national heritage.