USDA/Forest Service shuts down public observation at controversial wild horse roundup

UPDATE: Bob from Let ‘Em Run left a comment to this post that:
“Lacy J Dalton has informed me that Dean Heller’s office informed her that the roundup has been postponed for 90 days.”


BLM image of captured mare and foal from 2012 Owyee Herd Management Area roundup. Where are they now?
BLM image of captured mare and foal from 2012 Owyee Herd Management Area roundup. Where are they now?

Wild Horse Preservation Campaign and The Cloud Foundation Press Release

Winnemucca, NV (August 8, 2013) — Yesterday, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, informed the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC), a national coalition, that it was reneging on its previous commitment to provide public observation of the taxpayer-funded helicopter roundup of wild horses on public lands in the Humboldt Toiyable National Forest. The capture operation is set to begin tomorrow, Friday, August 9, 2013, at 5 a.m., and the wild horses that are rounded up are scheduled to go to slaughter auction the following week.

Today, attorneys for AWHPC, Return to Freedom, The Cloud Foundation and the Western Watersheds Project sent a letter to the USFS outlining its legal obligations to ensure that federally-protected wild horses are not captured and sent to slaughter. The letter also addressed the USFS’ obligation, under the First Amendment, to provide the public with the opportunity to observe this taxpayer-funded, federal operation.

The USFS plans 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 USFS plan will proceed despite the stated opposition of the Obama Administration and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to the practice of horse slaughter.

Taxpayers will foot the bill not only for the helicopter roundup but also for the transport of horses to the slaughter auction.

The roundup will take place on the Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone Reservation and public lands within the Humboldt Toiyabe National Forest, which is in close proximity to public lands where federally-protected wild horses live.

Captured 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 USFS is required to protect wild horses and burros under the 1971 Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act.

“The Forest Service is shirking its obligations under federal law to protect wild horses and uphold the public’s First Amendment rights,” said Neda DeMayo, President of Return to Freedom, AWHPC’s founding organization. “This backroom deal between the Forest Service and the Paiute-Shoshone tribe to use our tax dollars to roundup wild horses and send them to a slaughter auction is outrageous and unacceptable. This is a betrayal of the American public and it raises the question of whether the federal government is using the tribes to launder protected wild horses to slaughter.”

“Unless the captured horses are branded, there is no way to verify their origin, and they are likely protected wild horses who have strayed from their nearby Herd Management Area,” said Ginger Kathrens, Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation. “We demand that the Forest Service release any captured, unbranded horses because they may, in fact, be wild horses that are federally protected from slaughter. The Forest Service must definitively verify that no federally protected mustangs are caught up in the dragnet of this helicopter assault and slaughter operation.”

The Forest Service will pay to round up the horses and 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) Little Owyhee Herd Management Area which are lands designated as wild horse habitat areas. In fact, the BLM’s massive 450,000-acre Little Owyhee Herd Management Area is approximately 10 miles away from USFS lands and within proximity to the reservation; a BLM map for the 2012 Owyhee Complex wild horse roundup indicates that wild horses have been found on lands adjacent to USFS lands and near to the reservation. Wild horses are known to naturally travel great distances on a daily basis.

On May 30, 2013, the USFS and the tribes reportedly signed the agreement to execute this roundup. The decision to remove the horses was signed 15 days later. The USFS reportedly delegated the responsibility to inform the public about this federal operation to the tribe. The USFS conducted no environmental or legal analysis for the proposed action and did not provide the public with any notification or opportunity to comment on it.

# # #


— FS agreement with Ft. McDermitt Reservation

— Fallon Livestock Exchange “Special Sale” notice:

— Visack Says Alternative to Horse Slaughter Needed:

31 thoughts on “USDA/Forest Service shuts down public observation at controversial wild horse roundup”

  1. Not only is this roundup illegal but tax payers are paying to remove privately owned horses. Surely this is against the law also.


  2. They’re all passing the buck and it’s not their jurisdiction. BLM says because of tribal lands it’s impossible to tell if wild horses just wandered off the HMA even if it’s close.
    Erin O’Connor of the Forest Service needs to be called: 801 625 5347.

    This number seems to double as a fax number, but I did get through to leave a message.


  3. Whatever happened to the most transparent government in history that we were promised. This is horrendous. Sally Jewell just another political hack like Salazar.


  4. I am ABSOLUTELY appalled by this! How low can they possibly go to carry out this wretched procedure that clearly goes COMPLETELY against the law? How is this taxpayer-funded roundup going to help the country in any way? Why aren’t “We the People” being heard by our government that claims to be a democracy? What ever happened to the true spirit of Native Americans who used to exercise profound love and respect for creation? Do they now view these beautiful wild horses just as refuse? Have people lost their mind or am I just going insane over this?! It’s horrible things like this that remind me of how cruel and corrupt the world can be. :(


  5. I’ve contacted the WH and the USDA’s FSIS Congressional and Public Affairs Office 202 720 9113 as well as Gov Brian Sandoval’s office 775 684 5670 to lodge complaints against this roundup and sale at auction. This is illegal.


    1. I will call also, You know there are NO WORDS I mean what on earth can we say we have said it over and over and over, and NOW THIS??? OMG what the hell is happening in this country??? It is SO VERY HARD for us all because I certainly do and I know others do I am sure, we feel so helpless, like we just want to shake someone and we can’t even do that, well I could think of something a bit worse than that but you know what I mean….. NO ONE at all in WASHINGTON is holding BLM to any standard’s or the Forest Service, HOW on earth do they have the right to use OUR TAX dollar for this??? I am SO PISSED very, very angry…. And what’s more it will happen cause we all are nobody to our Gov. entity… GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR


  6. This is an atrocity and a betrayal of not only the wild horses, but the American people who DO NOT want to see the wild horses tortured by roundup after roundup and terrorized by low flying helicopters, torn from their families and then sent to slaughter! THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE! This must be stopped immediately. I will be contacting my representatives to put a stop to this insanity once and for all!


  7. Honestly, someone at USFS has clearly targeted these horses to show that they, indeed, have the will and the power to perpetrate this crime, and are making that point very clear to the American Taxpayer, “You absolutely will have no say in this. period.”. That in doing this action against Federally Protected animals, they are making a very clear statement that they are not now, nor ever will be required, to adhere to our laws. I now have to say that they are clearly making a point and using the animals to do so? Is this some sort of payback for the the Federal Court action? I would clearly and emphatically say absolutely.


    1. You are absolutely right, EponaSpirit! This is a crime and all those associated need to be prosecuted!


    2. Where is Interior Secretary Jewell in this. Clearly not doing her job just as expected, like all the others before her. This criminal murder by an agency she oversees is her responsibility and the blood is on her hands just as much and the others. It is not too late.

      Sally Jewell
      Secretary of the Interior
      Department of the Interior
      1849 C Street N.W.
      Washington DC 20240
      phone (202) 208-3100
      fax (202) 208-6950

      If you decide to contact her, please be respectful.


  8. I’ve put this on Facebook, made it public so it can be spread far and wide. This just makes me sick, especially if the Native American tribes are doing this. I thought they loved horses.


      1. What they are doing is illegal and they know it! They are trying to hide their hideous crimes, but they will be found out and this will stop! This is betrayal and criminal and all those involved need to be prosecuted!


    1. You’ve got a point! The truth will ALWAYS hold itself up to scrutiny. Therefore, there’s no need to cover any of this up unless there is something wrong. They know that what they are about to do is immoral. They’re keeping this in the shadows because if any media of this gets leaked, there is going to be controversy.


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