Lawsuit Seeks to Save Forest Land for Wild Horses

A group of wild horse advocates has sued the U.S. Forest Service to prevent the agency from eliminating acres of public land and rounding up the animals that currently occupy it.

Megan Backus, spokeswoman for the Animal Legal Defense Fund, said the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, Return to Freedom, and wild horse advocate Carla Bowers filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on March 24. The suit seeks to stop the U.S. Forest Service from eliminating thousands of acres of land and gathering 80% of the wild horses that currently occupy the Devil's Garden Wild Horse Territory in California's Modoc National Forest. The suit also alleges the U.S. Forest Service's plan violates federal environmental and animal protection laws and prioritizes ranchers and privately-owned livestock above the federally-protected wild horses, Backus said.

Neda DeMayo, founder and chief executive officer of Return to Freedom, said eliminating the land would have long term affects on wild horse herds in the region: "Devil's Garden is the last large wild horse territory in California. Not only will these changes negatively impact wild horses in Devil's Garden, but it also raises serious concerns about the long-term genetic viability of these wild horse bands."

Larry Chambers, press officer for the U.S. Forest Service, was unavailable for comment on the lawsuit.

The case remains pending.

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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