The U.S. Forest Service is now selling remaining Devil’s Garden wild horses ages 10-younger for $25 apiece with restrictions against slaughter.
On Jan. 10, USFS plans to drop the price of all wild horses still at the Double Devil Corrals in Modoc National Forest near Alturas, Calif., to $1 apiece regardless of age.
Though the wild horses will be sold with restrictions against slaughter, the plan to lower the price raises increased concerns that kill buyers will seek to profit by exporting the horses to slaughter.
Transporting horses out of the state for slaughter is a violation of California law.
Of 499 wild horses captured on the Devil’s Garden Wild Horse Territory during a roundup that ended Oct. 6, 344 were transported to the Double Devil Corrals for adoption or sale. The balance were sent to the Bureau of Land Management’s Litchfield Off-Range Horse Corrals near Susanville, Calif., to be offered for adoption.
Of the horses taken to the Double Devil Corrals, 90 have been placed into homes, according to a press release.
Those who would like to purchase Devil’s Garden Wild Horses should fill out the request form found at https://go.usa.gov/xQ3r3 and return it to SM.FS.firstname.lastname@example.org. Call (530) 233-8738 for more information or to schedule a viewing and selection appointment.
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.
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 given sanctuary by RTF.