USDA Shady Plan to Round Up Wild Horses for Slaughter Revealed

Update: The USDA postponed this roundup following legal pressure from AWHPC and other wild horse advocacy campaigns. Read more.

Despite Agriculture Secretary’s professed opposition to practice, taxpayers will pay and tribes will profit from horse slaughter

 Elko, NV (August 7, 2013) . . The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC), Return to Freedom and the Cloud Foundation today blasted the U.S. Forest Service (FS), a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for its plan to use helicopters to roundup as many as 700 wild horses from federal and tribal Lands in northern Nevada and turn them over to the tribes to sell for slaughter. This FS plan will proceed despite the stated opposition of the Obama Administration and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to the practice of horse slaughter.

The roundup is scheduled to begin Friday, August 9, 2013 on the Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone Reservation and public lands within the Humboldt Toiyabe National Forest. The horses will be put up for auction on August 17, 2013 at the Fallon Livestock Exchange, which is frequented by kill buyers who buy horses and ship them to Canada or Mexico for slaughter. Taxpayers will foot the bill not only for the helicopter roundup but also for the transport of horses to the slaughter auction.

“The Forest Service’s use of our tax dollars to roundup wild horses for the Ft. McDermitt tribes, which will profit from their sale, is highly questionable. This stealth maneuver is being done without any public input or environmental analysis,” said Neda DeMayo, president of Return to Freedom, the founding organization of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign.

 “We call on the Obama Administration --- which is publicly opposed to horse slaughter -- to immediately halt this roundup and take a closer look at this deal. What will be done with unbranded horses? How will the origin of these horses be proved? If these are truly reservation horses, then why is the federal government paying to round them up and transport them to a livestock auction? ” DeMayo asked.

Ginger Kathrens, Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation, an AWHPC coalition partner added, “We object to the use of our tax dollars to deliver horses to a slaughter auction for purchase by kill buyers. However, if this plan proceeds, the Forest Service must not capture any unbranded horses because they may, in fact, be wild horses that are federally protected from slaughter. At the very least, the Forest Service must verify that no federally protected mustangs are caught up in the dragnet of this helicopter assault.”

The Forest Service will pay to round up the horses, transfer the to the Ft. McDermitt Reservation, and will also pay to transport them to the Fallon Livestock Exchange. According to AWHPC, any unbranded horses that are rounded up could be federally protected mustangs that wandered off Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands designated as wild horse habitat areas. In fact, the BLM’s massive 450,000-acre Little Owyhee Herd Management Area is only about 10 miles away from the reservation and a BLM map for the  2012 Owhyee wild horse roundup indicates that wild horses have been found on lands adjacent to the reservation. 

On May 30, 2013,  the FS and the tribes reportedly signed the agreement to execute this roundup.  The decision to remove the horses was signed 15 days later. The FS delegated the responsibility to inform the public about this federal operation to the tribe.

Return to Freedom is dedicated to preserving the freedom, diversity and habitat of America’s wild horses through sanctuary, education and conservation, while enriching the human spirit through direct experience with the natural world. Return to Freedom provides a safe haven to over 300 wild horses and burros at its sanctuary in Santa Barbara, California and in Nevada where the group is planning to create a larger wild horse preserve.

The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, founded in 2004 by Return to Freedom, is a coalition of more than 50 horse advocacy, public interest, and conservation organizations dedicated to preserving the American wild horse in viable, free-roaming herds for generations to come.

The Cloud Foundation, Inc., a 501c(3) charity named for the wild stallion, Cloud, is dedicated to the preservation of wild horses and burros on public lands with special emphasis on isolated, genetically unique herds like Cloud’s in the Pryor Mountains of Montana

For more information, please see the following links:

FS agreement with Ft. McDermitt Reservation

Fallon Livestock Exchange "Special Sale" notice:

Visack Says Alternative to Horse Slaughter Needed: