Devil’s Garden (Calif.) wild horse adoptions, sales event set for Nov. 2

Two of 12 Devil’s Garden wild horses rounded up by the U.S. Forest Service in 2018 photographed shortly after their Aug. 20 arrival at RTF’s American Wild Horse Sanctuary.

About 340 of the 499 wild horses recently captured and removed from their home range on the Devil’s Garden Plateau Wild Horse Territory in Northern California will be offered for adoption and sales with limitations starting on Nov. 2.

Fifty-eight horses have already been placed with adopters or buyers that scheduled earlier appointments, according to a press release from the U.S. Forest Service.

The first of a planned series of monthly adoption events set for 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 2, at the Double Devil Wild Horse Corrals at Modoc National Forest. Public tours of the corrals will be offered at 10 a.m. Those who wish to pick up horses on the same day must make their selections before noon. Applications and the required pick-up planning form are available at

Horse ages 10-over are available for $25 with prohibitions against slaughter. The USFS plans to reduce that cost to $1 after a 30-day period but as of last week had not decided on a starting date for the initial 30-day period, according to Modoc National Forest staff.

Though the lower price tag will include restrictions against slaughter, it again raises concerns for the welfare of the horses because it would make it more profitable for a buyer to purchase a horse then re-sell it to a kill buyer, example.

Cost to adopt a horse is $125.

Adopters / buyers wishing to select horses in advance can make an appointment by calling (530) 233-8713. Videos of mares can be found here. Videos of geldings can be found here. Photos of adoptable horses can also be found on Facebook here.

In 2018, older wild horses captured at Devil’s Garden were kept at the forest’s corrals, while those 9-younger horses and older mares with foals were sent to the Bureau of Land Management’s Litchfield Off-Rang Horse Corrals to be offered for adoption. This year, the group of horses available for adoption or sale at the forest corrals contains a wider range of ages.

The U.S. Forest Service’s stated reason for removing the horses from the Devil’s Garden Wild Horse Territory, home to California’s last large wild horse herd, at Modoc National Forest: “Reducing the population will allow range and riparian ecological conditions to recover, while also supporting wild horse herd health by reducing competition for limited food, water and habitat.”

Prior to the roundup, the USFS estimated that there were 1,802 wild horses on Devil’s Garden, which is located at Modoc National Forest. The agency-set “Appropriate Management Level” is 206-402 horses — as low as one horse for every 1,305 acres.

By comparison, USFS permits 26,880 Animal Unit Months of private grazing on the wild horse territory. One Animal Unit Month is defined as a month’s forage for one horse, one cow / calf pair or five sheep. Actual livestock use varied between 63-73% of the permitted maximum from 2006-12, according to USFS planning documents.

USFS did not treat and release any mares with safe, proven and humane fertility control vaccines, which would curb reproduction and calls for future roundups. In fact, 16 mares treated with fertility control were among the wild horses recaptured and are now available for adoption.

About 300 of the wild horses that USFS plans to capture will be kept at the Double Devil Wild Horse Corrals in Alturas, where they will be offered for adoption or sale. The balance will be sent to the Bureau of Land Management’s Litchfield Corrals near Susanville, Calif.

The roundup follows another in fall 2018 during which 932 wild horses were captured and removed from Devil’s Garden.

Return to Freedom and other advocates sued USFS after the agency announced unprecedented plans just before the 2018 roundup to sell older wild horses captured during without protections against slaughter. That case is ongoing. In May, U.S. District Judge James Donato ordered advocates and USFS to engage in settlement talks. 

A stipulated prohibition remained in place as the suit progressed, barring the agency from selling the horses without restriction. During that time, USFS was able to adopt or sell the remaining older wild horses, which were kept in corrals at Modoc National Forest, with restrictions in place. That included a dozen horses recently moved to RTF’s American Wild Horse Sanctuary.

To read USFS’s planning documents, click here.