U.S. Forest Service Puts America’s Wild Horses at Risk of Slaughter

November 20, 2018


As deadly fires rage across the state of California, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) has begun rounding up hundreds of federally protected wild horses—but not to protect them from wildfires. Instead, horses are being removed from the Modoc National Forest as a population management strategy, and many are at risk of being sold to slaughter for human consumption across our borders.

The USFS will provide a short time period during which the horses may be adopted or purchased under the rule that prohibits sales for slaughter. But in early January, any remaining horses will be offered up on the auction block for sale “without limitation,” meaning that individuals can buy the horses with no restrictions on slaughter. This sales option seems to directly benefit kill buyers (individuals who sell horses to slaughter for human consumption) looking to make a profit by buying the wild horses for as little as $1 apiece, then selling them to slaughter in Canada and Mexico for their meat.

Treating our wild horses like this is an affront to our values as Americans. Rather than focusing energy and resources solely on the costly cycle of roundups and removals, with no regard for the horses’ future well-being, the USFS should be investing in on-range fertility-control strategies to manage the animals.

Thankfully, lawmakers are fighting back. California’s U.S. Senators, Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, have both sent letters to USFS expressing grave concerns over the treatment and fate of the Devil’s Garden horses. Congress has prohibited the government from spending funds on lethal management for wild horses on federal land (managed by the Bureau of Land Management) for decades. This move by USFS flies in the face of Congress’s directive, and California lawmakers are letting the agency know that this treatment will not stand on their watch.

This plan may violate California’s law banning the sale of horses for slaughter. In a letter to the USFS, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra reminded the agency that selling wild horses to slaughter is illegal in the state. Californians have made it clear that neither wild nor domestic equines in their state should be subjected to such a gruesome end.

Despite local, state and federal officials pushing back on this egregious plan, the USFS seems determined to offer hundreds of horses to kill-buyers. Time is of the essence. Please use your voice to protect our wild horses now by signing our petition urging the U.S. Forest Service to abandon this cruel plan.

If you have questions about the Modoc horses or if you want to get more involved in protecting horses, please email [email protected]. We’d love to hear from you.