Equine Welfare Advocates Sue Over Ft. Polk Horses

A group of equine welfare advocates have filed an injunction asking a federal court to prevent the U.S. Army from gathering and selling horses that reside on lands used for training near Ft. Polk, in Louisiana, until a lawsuit regarding the horses is resolved.

In 2016, the Pegasus Equine Guardian Association (PEGA) filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana asking the court to prevent the Army from removing the horses on the grounds that the animals have roamed the base property and the nearby Kisatchie National Forest since the 1600s, and that the removal plan threatens the horses' long-term survival. The group alleges that about 700 horses roam the forest and nearby base property.

The group filed a preliminary injunction on Jan. 8, asking the court to take immediate steps to stop the Army from any action regarding the horses until the case is settled. The lawsuit alleges that the Army violated laws, including the National Environmental Policy Act and the National Historic Preservation Act, by asserting it did not need to prepare an environmental impact statement for the horses’ removal.

“The Army also omitted other requirements, such as ensuring nonprofit organizations could put groups of horses up for adoption, rather than the horses being sold for slaughter,” said Anthony Eliseuson, staff attorney for the Animal Legal Defense Fund, an organization that provides expert animal law attorneys provide support and advice to programs such as the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic, which filed the injunction.

Wyn Hornbuckle. deputy director of public affairs for the U.S. Department of Justice, declined to comment on the ongoing litigation.

Eliseuson said the government is required to file a response to the preliminary injunction motion by Jan. 19, and plaintiffs can file a reply by Jan. 23. A hearing is slated for Jan. 30.

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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