SFGate.com in California broke a story on March 24, 2014, concerning a pending lawsuit filed by animal advocates. This latest action threatening wild horses hopes to intervene in plans by the U.S. Forest Service to gather up the majority of surviving wild horses in Modoc National Forest. The area directly affected by this proposed roundup involves California’s largest wild horse territory.
The agency intends to get rid of horses across a 40 square mile area, thus reducing the wild horses presently on this land by at least 80 percent. This wild horse removal puts all of the animals at great risk during these uncertain times for horses. They will face the possibility of horse slaughter, certain breakup of family herds and the “genetic viability of the remaining population.”
The area affected in the Modoc National Forest is frequently called Devil’s Garden. The horses have run free on this land for over 150 years. It remains California’s last wild horse territory of reasonably-large size. Removing the horses endangers them for numerous reasons including running them, forcing them into corral confines, breaking up herds and families, and the stark reality of horse slaughter.
Executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Stephen Wells, said,
Wildlife depend upon federal agencies for protection. Instead the Forest Service is protecting the private interests of ranchers.
Furthermore, by action of our United States Congress:
Wild horses have a historical right to territories designated and protected by acts of Congress.
Presently, the horses number approximately 1,100. The US Forest Service intends to remove 900 of the animals.
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court of District of Columbia by other animal advocates that include the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, Advocate Carla Bowers and Return to Freedom Horse Sanctuary.
According to SFGate.com and the SF Chronicle, messages left for U.S. Forest Service representatives did not as yet receive the favor of a reply.