Whatever They are Called, Fort Polk Horses are Wild

as published on the Beauregard Daily News

“There are in fact several unique herds of truly wild horses that are of value both environmentally and culturally, especially to the inhabitants of the area, but also to all Americans. …”

Regarding the articles about the Ft. Polk Horses:

The title of the most-recent article, “Making Sense of Fort Polk Horses Plan”, implies that the plan makes sense.

fort-polk-horsesWhile it is true that there are abandoned horses at Ft. Polk, there are also in reality herds of Wild Horses on the Fort Polk / Kisatchie lands, regardless of the label “trespass horses” that Ft. Polk placed upon all of the horses, not just the abandoned ones. Ft. Polk spokespersons always accentuate their claim that all of the horses are “trespass horses” by pointing to a court decision that happened about 15 years ago.However, the Wild Horse and Burro Act of 1971 was implemented for the purpose of preservation and protection of wild horses, Congress uses the term “unbranded and unclaimed” in reference to what distinguishes wild horses on the ranges where they existed prior to 1971. Unfortunately, an appeal from a humane organization to have the wild horses recognized as “wild” under the 1971 law resulted in an unfavorable decision by the court, in part because of misinformation from the government’s side and insufficient evidence to the contrary. However, today there is sufficient evidence based upon historical documentation, physical appearance, location, and behavior of the herds of wild horses.

There are in fact several unique herds of truly wild horses that are of value both environmentally and culturally, especially to the inhabitants of the area, but also to all Americans. They should be preserved and protected. Wild horses are wild horses by their nature, regardless of what label some want to put on them. The wild horses that survive today may be regarded as “feral” by some, however, the fact that horses were domesticated before they were reintroduced back to the North American continent matters little from a biological nor welfare standpoint. Regardless if the horses are abandoned, Generationally Wild or otherwise Wild, their welfare is at stake.

Pegasus would like to express the difference between herd management methods when discussing Wild Horses vs. Domesticated Horses. The domestic horse mentality uses the term “Sterilization” which implies gelding of stallions and/or ovariectomy of mares. These methods of sterilization have been shown to be detrimental to the health and nature of these horses, and are never recommended as solutions for Wild Horses. So what can be done?

Fertility Control is an option that can be successful, if administered responsibly, using methods and practices that are consistent with its recommended use to perpetuate healthy herds with genetic viability and diversity.

There is a significant likelihood that horses being removed run the risk of being sent to slaughter. We have received several statements that both federal and state officials have actually reached out to known Kill Buyers offering to make deals for removal. This lack of serious concern will surely result in the horses going to slaughter.

Slaughter is what happens to the majority of “unwanted” horses in this country as shown by the Animal Welfare Institute, 2015 Horse Slaughter Statistics, approx. 125,000 American horses were sent to a brutal, inhumane, terrorizing death last year. The term, Kill Buyer, is a commonly used term to describe those who profit from buying and selling horses for slaughter and these individuals are fixtures at horse sales (commonly referred to as Auctions, Sale Barns or Feed Lots).

“The journey to this cruel death is preceded by horrendous handling and transport methods. This process often includes the horses being shipped from auction to auction, in scorching heat or freezing blizzards and are deprived of food, water and rest. They are not separated by gender, age, size, or degree of aggressiveness. These trailers, designed with lower ceilings for cattle, prevent the horses from holding their heads upright during transport, which often causes them severe head, neck and limb injuries. During transport and at the slaughterhouse, eyes are often poked out on unruly horses. In some Mexican regional plants, horses are not rendered unconscious during the killing process but are merely immobilized by being stabbed repeatedly with a sort of dagger called a “puntilla” in the back of the neck to break the spinal cord. The excruciatingly painful, horribly bloody stabbing neither kills nor renders unconscious; it merely incapacitates the horses, making them the equivalent of tetraplegic, before they are hoisted, whereupon their throats are slit and their bodies are dismembered. During the entire process, the horses in Mexico are fully aware. [The foregoing paragraph is from an article by Jerry Finch, Habitat for Horses.] Since we know that the horse market is already flooded with healthy horses, we can assert that the minute the horses enter the horse market their risk for ending up in auctions and eventually slaughterhouses increases substantially.”

– Jerry Finch, Habitat for Horses. [Please see: http://humaneheart.org/horses for Internet links to the 5 article series on horse slaughter.]

While we applaud attempts by organizations to assist, we have serious concerns. It is difficult to believe that the Humane Society of North Texas, an organization that says they would take all of the horses, could have placed, with success, 100 horses per month so far this year, as the article indicates. In comparison, many of the BLM placed horses ended-up at slaughter, and the BLM has taken serious precautions to prevent it (e.g., freeze branding horses in a conspicuous and unalterable way). The BLM has approximately 55,000 horses and 11,000 burros that they have been taking from public lands and have been keeping (for years) in holding facilities awaiting adoption.

“In light of the thousands of wild horses and burros that the federal government wants to remove from the range in Nevada and elsewhere, it would be irresponsible for the Department of Defense to move forward without a long-term, humane management plan for the Ft. Polk horses. We respectfully urge the Army to partner with local organizations to create and implement a humane management plan, using safe, proven fertility control, to reduce the number of horses over time..”

– Neda DeMayo, nationally known wild horse expert: President, Return to Freedom (Wild Horse Preservation, Education & Sanctuary); and Founder, American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, a coalition of organizations dealing with current wild horse crisis issues.

The article concluded with a paragraph that implied everything will be “OK” because animal advocates will be looking out for the horses. This is very misleading. Ft. Polk has already said they will be doing nothing with regard to following-up on the horses that leave Ft. Polk. The end result is that the horses will be in jeopardy as a result of the Ft. Polk “plan”.

Pegasus would like to see a partnership between governing organizations, wild horse preservation groups, advocates and citizens. It is believed many of the Military’s safety concerns could be addressed as well as acting in the best interest of the horses and enhancing public relations. We feel the Army’s plan falls short. Here are some examples of what horse welfare advocates would like to see; a horse registry, low-stress handling, and non-permanent fertility control while maintaining the uniqueness of the Wild Horse herds. Also their plan has no mention of what governing authorities will do about the in ability to enforce basic animal abandonment laws, which is a problem that will only continue unless addressed. It is important to realize that partnerships like this do exist and are successful; for example North Dakota Badlands Horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park is an excellent example for Louisiana to follow. Please check them out. http://ndbh.org/

So If you feel the same sense of concern as we do, you should make those concerns known to Fort Polk as well as Local and Federal Government Officials. Pegasus hopes to encourage citizens to find ways to preserve the wild horses, and take a sensible & low-stress approach to managing the unique horse herds in Kisatchie and Fort Polk.

Hanchey can be reached through Operationcowgirl@gmail.com

 

5 comments on “Whatever They are Called, Fort Polk Horses are Wild

  1. So wrong this decision by Ft. Polk personnel! They truly ignored all the positive points so many people made about the presence of the wild horses on their base, including their prevention of forest fires and their inspiring example of living in harmony with nature.

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  2. These Wild Horses are an important part of Louisiana history.
    They should be protected under Federal Law

    The National Historic Preservation Act
    http://www.achp.gov/nhpa.pdf

    … (b) The Congress finds and declares that—
    (1) the spirit and direction of the Nation are founded upon and reflected in its historic heritage;
    (2) the historical and cultural foundations of the Nation should be preserved as a living part of our community life and development in order to give a sense of orientation to the American people;
    (3) historic properties significant to the Nation’s heritage are being lost or substantially altered, often inadvertently, with increasing frequency;
    (4) the preservation of this irreplaceable heritage is in the public interest so that its vital legacy of cultural, educational, aesthetic, inspirational, economic, and energy benefits will be maintained and enriched for future generations of Americans;
    (5) in the face of ever-increasing extensions of urban centers, highways, and residential, commercial, and industrial developments, the present governmental and nongovernmental historic preservation programs and activities are inadequate to insure future generations a genuine opportunity to appreciate and enjoy the rich heritage of our Nation;
    (6) the increased knowledge of our historic resources, the establishment of better means of identifying and administering them, and the encouragement of their preservation will improve
    the planning and execution of Federal and federally assisted projects and will assist economic growth and development; and
    (7) although the major burdens of historic preservation have been borne and major efforts initiated by private agencies and individuals, and both should continue to play a vital role, it is nevertheless necessary and appropriate for the Federal Government to accelerate its historic preservation programs and activities, to give maximum encouragement to agencies and individuals undertaking preservation by private means, and to assist State and local governments and the National Trust for Historic Preservation in the United States to expand and accelerate their historic preservation programs and activities.

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  3. An Open Letter of Abject Concern and Outrage” (the first part of the letter)
    https://rtfitchauthor.com/2016/05/10/alert-fort-polk-wild-horses-in-serious-jeopardy/

    “As one of the Peason Ridge Heritage Family members I am very saddened by the decision made by the United States Army and General Timothy McGuire to do away with all the magnificent wild heritage horses that have roamed Peasn Ridge and the area of Camp/Ft. Polk for generations. One of the characteristics on why the settlers and homesteaders actually settled on Peason Ridge was due to the large open highlands and grasslands where large herds of cattle, horses, goats, sheep, and other livestock could be raised. On Peason Ridge these settlers brought something with them from England. They set aside 16 full sections of land for just livestock grazing. This was a reflection on how the large landowners had set aside lands for their livestock to graze on in England and servants an serfs could not have any use of these lands. Peason Ridge began to be settled in 1818 and from the days of the Native Americans to the first settlers and on until the lands were taken by imminent domain in 1941, there have been horses on this landscape and they have become a part of this landscape and a part of the aspect of nature. During the many years England Air Force Base was in operation, Peason Ridge was used as the bomb and gunnery ranges for the 23rd Tactical Fighter Wing (Flying Tigers). Members of my family worked for the US Air Force and they conducted all the scoring operations on every flight of aircraft that came onto this range. And in all those many years, even during the days of Vietnam Training where there were continuous training missions by aircraft of every type, day and nite, and even flown by South Vietnamese and other allied nations pilots, THERE IS NO RECORD OF ANY MISSON BEING COMPROMISED BY THE HORSES OR ANY LIVESTOCK.

    I differ in what Fort Polk is declaring as they are “unsafe and cause training incidents and accidents”. These horses have not caused training accidents but people sure have !

    The United States Army has declared these historic horses “trespass horses”. No they are not trespassing, they are on the lands of my ancestors and the ancestors of these horses. I want help set your record straight because much of the information being released by the U.S. Army is incorrect and very prejudicial toward both the Heritage Families and these Heritage Horses

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  4. Horse Tales of the US Cavalry in Louisiana – 1941
    http://www.sfasu.edu/heritagecenter/9246.asp
    By Rickey Robertson

    There are literally thousands of stories that have come from the local folks throughout Louisiana concerning the Great Louisiana Maneuvers. Even today, when visiting with the old timers, just sitting on the porch drinking coffee with them, invariably the conversation will come up about the Louisiana Maneuvers. The rural inhabitants of this section of Louisiana could not comprehend the vast number of troops and vehicles that invaded them during the maneuvers. One thing they all remember is the magnificent cavalry horses that were used by the mounted units and the big Missouri mules used by the field artillery units.

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