Public meeting set over plan to capture 1,000 California wild horses

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Wild horses flee a helicopter during a roundup at the Devil’s Garden Plateau Wild Horse Territory in Northern California in 2016. RTF file photo by Steve Paige.

The U.S. Forest Service will hold a public meeting July 11 in Alturas, Calif., to answer questions about its plan to capture and remove 1,000 wild horses from the Devil’s Garden Plateau Wild Horse Territory.

The meeting will be held at 4 p.m. at the Forest Supervisors Office, 225 West Eighth St., in Alturas.

The government-set Appropriate Management Level is 206-402 wild horses for the territory, which is comprised of more than 250,000 acres of land in Modoc National Forest. The entire territory is open to privately held livestock. The current estimated population of wild horses there is 3,900 in and around the wild horse territory, according to the Forest Service.

The agency claims the roundup is intended “to address impacts on aquatic resources, wildlife, grazing and traditional cultural practices,” according to a press release.

In August 2017, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that the Forest Service must restore 23,000 acres to the middle of the wild horse territorythat the agency claimed had been added by “administrative error” in the 1980s. Return to Freedom, the American Wild Horse Campaign and local resident and wild horse and burro advocate Carla Bowers were co-plaintiffs in the case.

The Forest Service last held a helicopter roundup at Devils Garden in September and October of 2016. A total of 290 wild horses were captured and later offered for adoption. The agency later took the unusual step of releasing 53 mares on October 2017 that had been captured during the roundup but went unadopted.