Devils Garden: California attorney general warns U.S.F.S. against wild horse sale

/ Featured, In The News, News, Roundups, Slaughter

A contractor’s helicopter drives wild horses into the trap at Devils Garden during a 2016 roundup. RTF file photo by Steve Paige.

Help RTF help the Devils Garden wild horses. Click here:

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has warned the U.S. Forest Service not to go through with a plan to sell wild horses recently captured at Devils Garden Plateau Wild Horse Territory without restriction.

In a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Chief of the U.S. Forest Service Vicki Christiansen, Becerra emphasized that California prohibits the possession or sale of horses with the intent of using them for human consumption.

“To slaughter for commercial consumption mustangs that have roamed California for over a century is not only atrocious, but unlawful,” said Attorney General Xavier Becerra in a press release. “These majestic animals captivate the imagination and symbolize the rugged independence of the American West. We urge the federal government to treat the Modoc National Forest and its wildlife with the respect that it is due by protecting these beautiful wild horses from the commercial slaughterhouse.”

Federal law prohibits the Department of Interior from selling wild horses for commercial slaughter, though the U.S. Forest Service is part of the Department of Agriculture.

Between Oct. 10 and Nov. 8, the Forest Service captured 932 wild horses and 14 have died during a helicopter roundup at Devils Garden. The agency plans to hold an adoption / restricted sale event Nov. 16-17 for an estimated 300 captured wild horses ages 10-older, with restrictions that include barring buyers from sending wild horses to slaughter. The agency planned to put any remaining wild horses up for sale as soon as Jan. 10.

Return to Freedom and other wild horse and animal-welfare advocacy organizations have demanded that the Forest Service drop its plan to sell the older wild horses without restriction. Two groups of organizations have also filed lawsuits to stop the sale, including a coalition that includes RTF.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has also called on the Forest Service to call off the unrestricted sale.

RTF has also called on the Forest Service to delay by 30 days its adoption / restricted sale event after the agency put down seven captured wild horses that tested positive or showed symptoms of pigeon fever.

Adoption / sale event

The Forest Service has announced plans to hold a wild horse adoption and sale event on Nov. 16-17 at the Double Devil Corrals at Modoc National Forest near Alturas, Calif. The event will run from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on both days.

Horses ages 10-older will first be available first to adopters based on the order in which they’ve applied, then to buyers for restricted sale in the order in which they applied. Sale restrictions include the ability to provide an adequate home and transportation as well as a prohibition against selling horses for slaughter.

Adopted wild horses will cost $125, sale horses $25.

The Forest Service will retain the title on adopted wild horses for one year, meaning that horses can be returned at any time during that year. Those that purchase wild horses will receive their horse’s title immediately.

As of Oct. 31, more than 200 older wild horses had been captured, including pregnant mares, according to the Forest Service. Horses available for adoption / sale will have had their vaccinations and Coggins testing by the time of the event.

The Forest Service plans to geld all of the older stallions on or around Nov. 12, unless adopters or buyers make arrangements to take intact mature stallions.

Older mares with foals are being transported to the BLM’s Litchfield corrals in Susanville, Calif., where they will be offered for adoption — along with captured wild horses ages 9 and under — beginning in early to mid-December. Details on those adoptions have not yet been announced.

For more information, including adoption and sale forms and links to photos of captured wild horses, see

You Can Help

Return to Freedom is already making preparations for the rescue of older horses. Should the U.S. Forest Service go forward with their disastrous plan to lift all restrictions on sales of an estimated 300 wild horses ages 10-older from Devils Garden Wild Horse Territory, this puts them in jeopardy of being purchased by kill buyers. To donate to Return to Freedom’s Wild Horse Defense Fund for the Devils Garden response effort:

Please click here if you can provide a good home to two or more wild horses, especially those ages 10-older, offer transportation for rescued horses, or would like to donate to support the rescue effort.

Take Action

Please click here to send a message to U.S. Forest Service Officials opposing the unrestricted sale of wild horses.

* Please click here to send a letter to your members of Congress urging them to oppose the Bureau of Land Management sale policy, which allows any buyer to purchase up to 24 wild horses with no waiting period, no oversight and no questions asked.

* Please keep calling U. S. Senators on the Conference Committee and urge them to continue standing up for wild horses and burros and opposing slaughter. Click here for suggested talking points and a list of phone numbers.