Fort Polk Horses Need Your Help

from Amy Hanchey

Kistachie National Forest, which spans 7 parishes in Louisiana and encompasses a whopping 604.000 acres of land, is home to Fort Polk Military Base, which resides on approx. 140,000 acres.

There are 2 theoretical groups of horses that roam the area.

First, the horses that are seemingly more domesticated. Most likely dumped horses. These horses congregate near the base itself.

domestic horses

Second, Wild Horses located in an area called Peason Ridge – These horses are a very tight knit herd and Do Not seem to be domesticated at all.

Wild Horses

They are likely the progeny of the Cavalry Horses from WWII and potentially with lineage to the Colonial Spanish Mustangs. Self-sustaining for the last 75+ years.

Caring individuals made a simple request for the humane, ethical, conservative approach to addressing the equine presence at Fort Polk Military base and Kisatchie national forest as a whole. Although our focus is centered on the welfare of the horses, the safety of civilians and soldiers is paramount. However the gross disregard for the public’s opinion is extremely concerning, as is the attempt to paint caring individuals as activists which has a negative connotation. This is a classic tactic and frankly inappropriate and inflammatory. The horses need a voice focused on their welfare, this is not activism, rather advocacy.

Public demand for conservative, humane, ethical treatment of these animals is undeniable and support continues to grow as seen by the steady increase in support gained since sept 2nd.

The claim that their permits sufficiently safeguard horses from ending up on slaughter trucks is complete a farce. With no tracking or follow up procedures in place, the claim is a sham. There have been multiple instances of Fort Polk/ Kisatchie horses end up in kill pens, leaving their foals behind far too early. Whether this occurred under current permit or under their noses, the inability to safeguard these horses, by the current leadership is clear. There is strong historical evidence that the horses came into the area with the Hernando de Soto Expedition (1539-1543). Free-roaming horses came into the area from various sources including American Indians (1800’s), Heritage Families and the U.S. Calvary (1940’s). Their progeny still roam this area today.

When asked about his plans for the horses, General McGuire said many times, “That Elimination of the horses is necessary to maintain first class joint training facility”

The Commanders at Fort Polk come and go every couple of years. Previous Generals allowed the horses some even fought to preserve them, protecting the sanctity of the land, history and animals. It is grossly unfair that a temporary commander is making a permanent decision on the behalf of future generations.

We implore Officials to work with equine advocates and wild horse experts to devise and execute an ethical and humane solution to the equine presence in Kisatchie / Fort Polk / Peason Ridge. One that allows the military, the civilians and the Horses to peacefully and safely coexist as they have done for the past 75+ years.

We believe a first class operation should strive for that same mentality in everything they do.

Please contact officials and request that a hold be placed on removal pending comprehensive, ethical, humane, and conservative plan has been presented developed and presented to public.

Link to Facebook:   https://www.facebook.com/Fort-Polk-Horses-of-Kisatchie-1484973435133037/timeline/?ref=hl

Petition: http://www.petition2congress.com/18445/fort-polk-descendants-wwii-cavalry-horses-in-immediate-danger/

21 comments on “Fort Polk Horses Need Your Help

  1. Someone just posted this great comment on the petition and it certainly sums it up, “As a Vietnam era training officer, I fully understand the importance of safety. This need, however, does not supersede the ethical requirement to do the right thing for the descendants of the heroic horses that served us in wartime.”

    Signing the petition is easy and important – just click on the link in the article. Petitions are often only mildly effective but at least having a voice is better than doing nothing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. And when you sign a petition, be certain to add a comment so your signature counts.
    1 million signatures with no comments only count as ONE.
    1 Million signatures, each with a comment, count as 1 Million signatures

    Like

  3. This appears to be a repeat pattern and has happened before
    A bit of history from 2004

    Thu May 13, 2004
    http://lists.envirolink.org/pipermail/ar-news/Week-of-Mon-20040510/024898.html

    S A V E T H E L O U I S I A N A W I L D H O R S E S

    For all concerned people (see “What You Need To Do” below)

    (Formerly, the commanding general at Ft. Polk (Kisatchie National Forest)
    expressed a strong desire to keep allowing the wild horses to roam freely
    on their training areas in the forest, but the Louisiana Commissioner of
    Agriculture (the ogre in this) continues to pester the Army to remove
    them. The Army feels they should comply. Please read-on, but at least
    make contact with the Army so they can count how many people are
    concerned about the wild horses.)

    THE REASON ACTION ON YOUR PART IS NEEDED

    Hundreds of wild, free-roaming horses roam the piney woodlands of the
    Kisatchie National Forest in wild-horse bands. 129 horses have been
    counted in one large grouping (made up of several bands together). The
    Ft. Polk Military Reservation is located within the Kisatchie N.F. area,
    and the U.S. Army uses other parts (two predominantly) of the National
    Forest for training exercises and weapons firing. An environmental
    specialist at Ft. Polk has estimated that within these three areas there
    are approximately 350 horses. During exercises, the horses make
    themselves scarce. There are other segments of the Kisatchie N.F. in the
    region. No one really
    knows how many wild horses there are all together. Certainly there must
    be several hundreds of them.

    The Commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry
    (LDAF), Bob Odom, has asked the Army to get rid of the horses, and the
    Army feels it should comply with his request, believing it is coming from
    the State of Louisiana. Odom is a powerful Louisiana politician having
    held his elected office for a very long time. He has proliferated “canned
    hunts” (commercial operations where animals are shot within enclosures),
    and he has supported cockfighting. He is currently being prosecuted in
    federal court for impropriety in contracting the storage of federally
    contributed commodities for school children.

    Odom’s Livestock Sanitary Board established rules with regard to equine
    infectious anemia (EIA), a disease of horses and related equine animals,
    that are seriously extreme. The rules require that horses that test
    positive for exposure to the disease (i.e., having antibodies against the
    disease in their blood) must be killed. This has caused great economic
    loss for some, and great heartache for others who’s much loved pets they
    were forced to destroy, including childrens’ ponies. Attempts by horse
    owners to stand up to the LSB in valiant efforts to save horses have
    ended in rude abuse, dishonesty, and humiliation. Most states, not even
    Kentucky has such a policy. Kentucky: home of many preciously valuable
    race horses.

    The chief scientist at the United States Department of Agriculture –
    Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service – Veterinary Services
    (USDA-APHIS-VS), Dr. Tim Cordes (DVM) said that EIA is currently regarded
    by him to be a disease of low transmissibility which requires a lot of
    exposure between animals to be transmitted. Dr. Cordes produced, along
    with Dr. Charles Issel (DVM,PhD) of the University of Kentucky, USDA
    documents (including uniform method rules which are recommendations for
    states to follow). Professor Issel is a researcher and world-
    renowned authority on EIA. He began his research on EIA while at
    Louisiana State University. Dr. Issel estimates (and the USDA reports)
    that, regardless of any other factors, when horses are separated by a
    distance of 200 yards, “the transmission of EIA is broken.”

    In a seminal paper on EIA, Tim Crawford, DVM and S. Lynn Kittleson, DVM
    state: “This irrational fear is a result of many distorted accounts of
    the severity and contagiousness of the disease …”. Here’s an indication
    of the rarety of natural transmission, even in conducive circumstances:
    EIA-negative horses that were kept for long periods of time (9 years for
    8 of the horses, and 15 years in one case), on a quarantine farm located
    next to the Florida Everglades among EIA-positive horses, continued to
    test EIA-negative.

    Yet Odom, reacting to the hysteria motivated “witch hunt” mentality
    within the LSB, has claimed that the Kisatchie wild horses are a
    reservoir of EIA infection, and he continues to pester the Army to get
    rid of them. Obviously, it is impossible, in any practical sense, for the
    wild horses to transmit EIA to owned horses even if it is assumed that
    they carry the EIA virus, which may or may not be so. A test conducted a
    few years ago of six captured Kisatchie wild horses showed that none of
    the six tested positive for EIA exposure. While the scientific inquiry
    regarding EIA has necessarily been based upon captive animals, and Dr.
    Cordes admits little is known about wild horses with regard to EIA, Dr.
    Issel believes that there would be some percentage of EIA-exposed horses
    in any population of wild horses. Accordingly, if Odom would have his
    way, all wild horses everywhere would have to be gotten rid of. Such a
    scenario would be abhorrent to most Americans.

    The Fund for Animal has successfully sued the Bureau of Land Management
    (BLM) over their “carelessness” in the adoption of wild horses (mustangs
    from ranges in the West). It appears that the majority of wild horses
    that are captured and “adopted” end up at the slaughterhouse in less than
    one year. Wild horses are not gentle animals. They may disappoint people
    who adopt them with unrealistic expectations. Also, some with criminal
    motives “adopt” wild horses to turn a profit at the slaughterhouse. The
    Army will make an effort to see that the horses are humanely treated and
    adopted. But saying that is one thing and doing it is another. The
    capture and handling of wild horses is extremely traumatic for the horses
    and results in casualties. The Army did not track the adoptions of the
    six horses (and one foal born after capture) that were taken in the test.
    They turned them over to a volunteer from a humane organization near Ft.
    Polk.

    If the Army actually pursues getting rid of the horses as they seem
    intent on doing, it will be costly to the government, and distract the
    Army from its primary mission in this time of world crisis. The horses
    are actually playing a role currently in some training exercises because
    they add an “element of realism” to the areas that are supposed to
    simulate a “3rd World” setting. If the Army troubles to remove the horses
    from their training areas, horses from other areas in the Kisatchie N.F.
    will surely be a source of re-population. The Army will have the same
    situation to again contend with year after year into the future.

    As a result of a settlement in a lawsuit in the U.S. Circuit Court (of
    Appeal) the Army is
    conducting an Environmental Assessment (EA) regarding the horses. The
    first public comment phase ends May 15th. While they say they are
    approaching the issue without pre-determining the outcome, they have
    already hired a contractor to consider removal of the horses, and the two
    public meetings they held were one-way affairs which did not permit
    public discussion on the issue. Comment forms to be completed in writing
    were handed out. The Army seems to be moving to comply with Odom’s
    request. Odom has no legitimate authority over the wild horses; no more
    than any other citizen of this nation.

    The wild horses were labeled “trespass horses” by an attorney at the USDA
    who was less than conversant with the issue. While this was contradictory
    to the opinion of an Army attorney, the court made it stick. This is an
    absurdity. The law in the U.S. Code that protects wild horses defines a
    wild horse as any unclaimed and unbranded horse on public lands of the
    United States. And, case law has recognized unclaimed and unbranded
    horses that join wild horse bands as being wild horses themselves. The
    Kisatchie wild horses have been there for generations, and are just as
    much wild horses as any in the United States. “Trespass” means they came
    onto the land unlawfully. These horses were born on that land (except for
    the few that may have joined them in more recent years). They are native
    to it.

    Like

  4. bit of history from 2004 (continued)

    Thu May 13, 2004
    http://lists.envirolink.org/pipermail/ar-news/Week-of-Mon-20040510/024898.html

    S A V E T H E L O U I S I A N A W I L D H O R S E S
    WHAT YOU NEED TO DO:

    1. Write an appeal to save the horses, and send it to the Army at Ft.
    Polk at: or Public Affairs Office; Attn: Dan
    Nance; 7073 Radio Road; Ft. Polk, LA 7459-5342. If possible, please
    include any substantive information that supports the statements or
    arguments in your appeal.

    [The Army may respond with non-Odom/EIA related arguments about why the
    horses may need to be removed: the horses are in danger (they go away and
    hide in times of danger), and the horses get in the way on airfields and
    in drop zones, but these were never a serious concern of the Army, except
    there has been a bit of concern expressed about horses coming in to eat
    grass from re-seeded exercise plots denuded by Army operations with light
    cavalry vehicles. Surely there is a way to address this without removing
    the horses.]

    2. If possible, copy your appeal to the governor of Louisiana: Governor
    Kathleen Babineaux Blanco; State Capitol; P.O. Box 94004; Baton Rouge, LA
    70804.

    3. If applicable, contact your U.S. senator and your congressman. Tell
    them you want the Kisatchie wild horses to remain on the lands of the
    Kisatchie National Forest in Louisiana; you don’t want the Army to remove
    them at the whim of a mis-guided Louisiana politician; and you want them
    afforded the same protection the government grants to any other wild
    horses under the Wild, Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act.

    Thank you. The horses need your help.

    Like

  5. With Fort Polk threatened to lose 6,500 soldiers, Louisiana officials rally residents for support
    July 02, 2014
    http://www.nola.com/military/index.ssf/2014/07/with_fort_polk_threatened_to_l.html#comments

    “Last year, for the first time, we changed the perception of Fort Polk by the Army” through public comments, said Michael Reese, chairman of the community group Fort Polk Progress. “Nothing else matters if the public doesn’t respond.”

    Like

  6. Horse advocates call for compromise in Army plan
    Army officials have said a decision on the horses will be made in January
    BY ELONA WESTON
    http://www.westcentralsbest.com/news/horse-advocates-call-for-compromise-in-army-plan/article_7dd86d16-6dcc-11e5-8f3b-b3dc07bfb14f.html

    The horses are classified as “trespass” and are not protected under the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971.
    In 2000, the Coalition of Louisiana Animal Advocates, represented by the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic, filed suit in federal court, claiming the horses are protected. They were aiming to stop a proposed roundup of the horses amid fears, at the time, about Equine Infectious Anemia, or “swamp fever.”

    A year later, the COLAA’s lawsuit was dismissed when the court upheld a decision by the U.S. Forest Service that said the horses were not wild.
    That ruling was appealed to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, and the appeals court upheld the suit’s dismissal. A settlement, among other things, stipulated the horses are “trespass.”

    In 2004, despite the ruling and even though state lawmakers do not have regulatory authority over the horses, the Louisiana Legislature weighed in during a regular session. Members adopted a House Concurrent Resolution, authored by then-Rep. Warren J. Triche Jr., D-Thibodaux, expressing, “legislative support for federal management of wild horses on federal lands.”

    A section of the measure reads, “WHEREAS, there are hundreds of such unclaimed and unbranded horses living in free-roaming bands on the public lands of the Kisatchie National Forest and the lands of the Fort Polk Military Reservation, which horses, in most cases, were not only born on those lands, but are the progeny of generations of such horses, according to residents of the area; and WHEREAS, the U.S. Army has effectively managed these wild animals for decades and has and should retain the authority to continue to do so in a manner that is best for the well-being of the animals …”

    Like

  7. Aside from supporting the second largest employer in Louisiana, it’s strange the Joint Strike Force is there at all. Why are they training in the forests and swamps of Ft. Polk when our most vital immediate engagements may be boots-on-the-ground in the deserts of the Middle East? Is the Pentagon anticipating invading forested areas of Russia or maybe returning to Southeast Asia? Was Jade Helm 15 in Louisiana? Nope. The “invasion” was primarily in the unforgiving summer of southwestern Texas.

    Now we’ll have a continued presence in mountainous Afghanistan. Do we really think our forces will be exclusively in “safe” training areas if conditions continue to deteriorate? Equines contributed to missions and could again. Might be good to be familiar with them.

    A gas pipeline was slated to be built from the Caspian Sea through Afghanistan to the coastal border of Pakistan and India. That can’t happen as long as the country is unsecured. Btw, Russia and Pakistan signed an agreement for a pipeline from Lahore to Karachi on Friday. China may be an investor. Are they planning a connection that will bypass Afghanistan completely and leave us with the quagmire they abandoned?

    Sometimes a conspiracy theory is an actual conspiracy.

    Like

  8. I just got this letter from Senator Feinstein in regard to the Fort Polk wild horses and it reminded me that politicians only know what they are being “fed” by lobbyists and other biased groups like the HSUS who has proven themselves to NOT be a friend of the WH&B:

    Thank you for contacting me about feral horses at Fort Polk in Louisiana. Your correspondence is important to me, and I welcome the opportunity to respond.
    I understand that you are concerned about a proposal to remove feral horses from Fort Polk. As you may know, a large and growing population of feral horses resides at Fork Polk, a more than 100,000-acre U.S. Army installation, and the surrounding Kisatchie National Forest in Louisiana.

    Although a popular narrative persists that these feral horses are descended from World War II cavalry horses, numerous sources, including the Humane Society of the United States, agree that these feral horses are in fact local abandoned horses and their offspring. Furthermore, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana ruled that these feral horses are “trespass livestock” and not covered by the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971 (Public Law 92-195), which requires the protection, management, and control of horses and burros on public lands.

    According to the U.S. Army, the continued trespassing of feral horses at Fort Polk routinely impedes military training activities and poses an unacceptable safety risk “for troops, Army equipment, and the horses themselves.” The Army has been considering management options for the feral horses at Fort Polk for several years. The Army held public hearings with local residents in Louisiana and solicited input from animal rights groups to discuss a future course of action, as past roundups and sterilizations have proved ineffective in preventing feral horses from interfering with military readiness at Fort Polk.

    On August 3, 2015, the U.S. Army published a public notice that it will conduct an environmental assessment (EA) for proposals to remove the trespassing feral horses at Fort Polk. Public comments on the proposal were accepted until September 5, 2015. The Army is currently reviewing information received during the public comment period, which will be incorporated into the final environmental assessment. According to the Army, “no decision on any actions regarding the feral horses or the disposition of the horses will be made until after completion of the EA and careful consideration of issues of concern and reasonable alternative actions identified by the public, appropriate government agencies, and subject matter experts.”

    Please know that I appreciate learning of your concerns about the welfare of the feral horses at Fort Polk. I will be sure to keep your thoughts in mind should relevant legislation be considered by the Senate. Again, thank you for taking the time to contact me. I hope that you will continue to reach out to me on issues of importance to you. If you have any additional questions or comments, please feel free to contact my Washington, D.C., office at (202) 224-3841 or visit my website at http://feinstein.senate.gov. Best regards.
    Sincerely yours,
    Dianne Feinstein
    United States Senator

    Like

  9. America should take a lesson from European history. Europeans have learned some hard lessons from wars.

    MILOVICE (Czech Republic)
    Feb 16, 2015:
    http://www.therakyatpost.com/world/2015/02/16/exmoor-ponies-gallop-rescue-unique-czech-ecosystem/

    Wild ponies vanished from Czech soil thousands of years ago but are now making a comeback thanks to an imported herd that conservationists hope will rescue an unique ecosystem.

    The 14 light brown mares chomp on grass in a small enclosure in Milovice, a small town just east of the capital Prague, as they recover from a long journey from Exmoor National Park in England.

    “It’s the first time the Czech Republic will use ponies to save an ecosystem — a steppe in this case,” says Dalibor Dostal from the non-profit organisation Ceska krajina (Czech countryside).

    “It’s the first time the Czech Republic will use ponies to save an ecosystem – a steppe in this case,” says Dalibor Dostal from the non-profit organisation Ceska krajina (Czech countryside).

    Like

  10. Fort Polk is a perfect place to implement Reserve Design and On the Range Management.
    This is a golden opportunity for the Military to step up to the plate

    American military, wildlife learning to coexist
    The U.S. military is trying to make peace with an array of endangered animals, from birds and turtles on Army bases to whales and seals in Navy sonar range.
    http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/blogs/american-military-wildlife-learning-to-coexist

    War is hell for everyone involved, including wildlife. But beyond the heat of the battle – where large tracts of land are often set aside for training, storage or other purposes – human conflict can actually be a boon for wild plants and animals.

    “The Defense Department has a dedication to the environment that is wider in scope than a lot of people are familiar with,” said John Conger, acting deputy undersecretary of defense for installations and environment, at a panel discussion on the issue last month. “We spend $4 billion a year on our environmental programs.”

    The Pentagon doesn’t have a stellar reputation as an ecological steward. Military leaders have long sought exemptions from environmental laws, and the Navy still frequently clashes with animal advocates who say its sonar harms whales. At the same time, though, U.S. armed forces have been quietly setting aside swaths of habitat for hundreds of vulnerable plants and animals, often partnering with environmental advocacy groups.

    The military’s ecological efforts vary widely in scale. The Army’s Joint Base Lewis-McChord, for example, has installed bridges over streams to prevent military vehicles from damaging the waterways and disrupting salmon spawning grounds. In July, the base also received $12.6 million from governments and nonprofit groups to preserve prairie habitat for Mazama pocket gophers, Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies and other native species.

    Similar programs are under way at bases across the country. Threatened red-cockaded woodpeckers are thriving at Army and Marine bases in North Carolina, as are endangered sea turtles. A rare subspecies of loggerhead shrike is also staging a comeback on California’s San Clemente Island — growing from just 13 birds in the 1990s to 140 today — even though it shares the habitat with a Navy bombing range.
    This coexistence isn’t necessarily selfless, as the AP points out: If endangered species decline too much, military bases could face tougher rules or even be forced to relocate. Conger acknowledges this, telling the AP “our conservation efforts are first and foremost focused on protecting readiness and eliminating the need for restrictions on training.”

    Regardless of the military’s motivation, though, it’s in a unique position to influence the fate of American wildlife.

    But as the AP reports, the DOD has already learned what can happen if it’s too cavalier about the wildlife whose habitats it shares. San Clemente Island is currently the U.S. Navy’s only ship-to-shore bombing range, but it used to have two: A former range on Vieques, Puero Rico, was closed in 2003 after years of protests over the environmental and health effects of naval exercises. Much of Vieques is now a national wildlife refuge.

    Like

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