October 8, 2018
A planned month-long roundup of up to 1,000 wild horses from the Modoc National Forest has raised the ire of horse lovers and animal activists nationwide who say the horses could potentially be sold to foreign slaughterhouses.
Although the U.S. Forest Service had been set to begin rounding up the horses Tuesday, it has put the round-up date off until Wednesday due to recent heavy rains in the region.
The round-up is expected to last throughout the month and is targeting horses from a herd in the Devil’s Garden Plateau Wild Horse Territory inside the Modoc National Forest.
Forest Service officials say they want to remove the horses because the land cannot continue to support them. Those horsed gathered up would be put up for adoption.
Although Modoc National Forest Supervisor Amanda McAdams could not be reached Monday for comment due to the Columbus Day federal holiday, she has said the area is supposed to have up to 400 horses but that it has almost 4,000, according to the Associated Press.
“It sounds like a lot of acres for 4,000 horses, but there’s not a lot of vegetation and not a lot of water,” McAdams said.
But the Davis-based American Wild Horse Campaign, which has tangled before with the Modoc National Forest over earlier wild horse round-ups and its management of the animals, claim the horses gathered could be destined for slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico.
While the U.S. Department of the Interior oversees most of America’s wild horses and burros and prohibits from selling them to slaughterhouses, the Forest Service has no such restriction.
And AWHC officials allege the government is “exploiting a legal loophole” that puts the horses at risk.
The horses will be made available for adoption, but after a 30-day period all horses 10 years and older — an estimated 300 animals — will be made available for sale without limitations for $1 each, allowing kill buyers to purchase a truckload of 36 horses once a week until they are gone,” the AWHC said in a statement.
The group also claims on its Facebook page the intent of the removal is to reduce the horse population so that ranchers who hold grazing permits in the forest can turn out their cattle again on the public lands for a fee.
"They are going to replace the horses with cattle," Suzanne Roy, the organization's executive director, said Monday.
Her group is calling on those opposed to the round-up to voice their objections to Modoc National Forest officials and their elected representatives.
The public lands belong to the people," she said.
"This is California's largest and most significant wild horse population and we must demand that these American icons be protected and humanely managed, not sold for slaughter," her group said on its Facebook page.
According to a blog published by the Devil's Garden Plateau Wild Horse Territory, the round-up is the result of a 2013 management plan that addresses the impacts of the horse territory's impact on aquatic resources, wildlife, grazing and traditional cultural practices.
"By reducing the population of wild horses, it will allow the range and riparian conditions to recover," it said. "By doing so, this will support overall wild horse herd health by reducing competition for food, water, and habitat and allow wildlife to prosper on the Devil’s Garden Plateau."
Of the estimated 1,000 horses being rounded-up, 700 horses under the age of 10, pregnant mares, mares and foal pairs will be sent to the Bureau of Land Management's Litchfield corrals and available for adoption through the BLM, according to the blog.
Those wanting to adopt a Devil’s Garden wild horse can do so by going to https://www.blm.gov/adoptahorse/ for more information and begin filling out an adoption form found at https://on.doi.gov/2pJjyMA.
Horses over the age of 10 will be held for 30 days at the Double Devil Wild Horse Corral. There will be about 125 to 175 older horses available, it said.
Horses will receive processing including vaccines and gelding. These horses are available for adoption of $125 or sale with limitations for $25. Those interested in taking home one of these horses are asked to fill out an application at https://bit.ly/2C4cQIb.
Those applications can be scanned and emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
After 30 days, the blog said, sale without limitation will begin and buyers can purchase up to 36 horses for as low as $1 each.
"This allows trainers who are willing to train large quantities of horses a business opportunity," the blog says, adding a number of trainers have already committed to purchasing some of these horses.
Horses can also be sold to sanctuaries, become ranch stock horses or packing horses, or they can be sold to buyers who may send them to slaughter, the blog says.
All buyers, however, must sign an application stating these horses will not be sold for human consumption, which is California law.