Horse News

Wild Horses get Favorable Hearing in Battle with California Welfare Ranchers over Sanctuary

as published on The Sun Herald

“Judge Robert L. Wilkins called a government assertion “factually unsupported,””

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

A top federal court on Wednesday appeared ready to force changes in a Forest Service plan that reduced wild horse protections in a remote Northern California county.

With tough questions and some pointed statements, three judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit revealed their apparent skepticism about management of the Devil’s Garden Plateau Wild Horse Territory in Modoc County. The Forest Service shrank the territory by about 25,000 acres in 2013.

“You’ve got a problem here,” Judge Patricia Millett told a Justice Department attorney.

At another point during the 30-minute oral argument, Judge Robert L. Wilkins called a government assertion “factually unsupported,” while Judge David Tatel offered that the wild horse advocates “still have a case” even if the government prevails on one issue.

The tenor and the content of the oral argument held before what is often called the nation’s second-highest court suggested eventual victory for the advocates who are challenging the Forest Service. Underscoring the stakes, an attorney for the California Cattlemen’s Association, the state’s farm bureau and other groups sat at the table alongside the federal government’s team…(CONTINUED)

7 replies »

  1. Its about damn time these poor horses got a break from someone!! Especially a government body when the BLM is so hell bent in driving them and their genetics to extinction.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I just got an email from Animal Welfare Institute that the SAFE Act is coming to a vote again! Hopefully everyone will contact their representatives? Maybe THIS time?


  3. Modoc County (Devils Garden Wild Horse Territory) “funny business” that is NOT funny.

    The local Farm Bureau and the Devil’s Garden Wild Horses “management” (excerpts):
    “The Modoc County Farm Bureau Takes Charge of Developing the Revised Management Plan
    The Forest Service subcontracted the development of the revised WHT plan to an entity representing local grazing interests. In August 2012 over one year after the Service issued the scoping letter the Modoc County Farm Bureau (“Farm Bureau”) entered into an agreement with the Service to develop the new management plan for the WHT.
    (“The entire plan development, not just the data collection, will now be funded through a new challenge cost share agreement between the Forest and the Modoc County Farm Bureau.”).
    Under this agreement, the Farm Bureau agreed to collect all of the data on wild horses, draft a monitoring report, prepare the draft EA and final EA, and oppose any appeal of the agency’s decision. AR04713. In return, the Service paid the Farm Bureau $203,000.
    The Farm Bureau was not a disinterested party. Its purpose “is to protect and promote agricultural interests in Modoc County,” including the grazing allotments that overlap with the WHT that are used to feed the cattle that compete with horses.
    The Farm Bureau “has many members whose livelihoods depend on grazing operations affected by the ever-expanding wild horse herd within or adjacent to” the WHT.
    Almost immediately after signing this agreement, the scope of the WHT plan revision was dramatically revised. On October 31, 2012, Susan Stokke, Field Manager for the Farm Bureau’s project, informed the Forest Service that the Farm Bureau wanted to change the WHT boundaries.
    Ms. Stokke is the wife of Sean Curtis, the Director of the Farm Bureau.” (

    Note: Ms. Stokke is the past head of BLM Nevada Wild Horse & Burro Lead
    Mr. Curtis also is the Modoc County employee centrally involved in the development of the new WHT management plan, as confirmed by the declaration he submitted in support of the ranching intervenors in this case. In addition and specifically, the funds from Title III being used to pay the salary of Sean Curtis, then County Resource Analyst and head of the Land Use Committee, were being used wrongfully and had been misappropriated. Sean Curtis and the Land Use Committee itself at the time was under heavy fire by local Citizens regarding, what they deemed, as wrongful conduct, including the use of Federal Funds to pay L.U.C. President Curtis which is illegal under Title 19 law as well as misuse of Title III funds. Other issues with L.U.C. included the Title 19 mandates that were ignored, such as the committee elect a chairperson, vice-chair and secretary from within its membership and divide itself into various committees (such as livestock, wildlife, water, timber, farming etc). This was not done, in fact, Mr. Curtis presented the committee with Modoc County Land Use Committee Standard Operating Protocol he had authored. In it, Mr. Curtis chaired the meetings, developed the agenda, wrote the minutes, appointed sub-committees, appointed an executive review committee, appointed advisory members, and most troubling was the exclusive contact and coordinator with agencies that contributed to his salary. Essentially Mr. Curtis (a Federally funded County Employee), had set himself up as King over a committee that by law to be comprised of registered voters of Modoc County not actively employed by any federal and/or state resource management agency.


  4. A young man told me a troubling story yesterday of a “trainer” in Illinois Illegally obtaining unbroke Wild Horses from Nevada that often have their freeze brands covered up to send quickly through loose pens and the BLM “gives” these horses to him and an unnamed Killer Buyer with documents including coggins free of charge. The place is located in Sangamon County Illinois. The horses are shipped across State lines to sell in loose rings in Indiana. Of course every part of this is illegal. The part that disturbed me was the detail to his story about the buyers and pulled blood for coggins while horses are loaded in trailers and having to have documemts to run through loose rings. He also says this has been happening for 8 yrs. He says the BLM passes these horse to this homegrown trainer without payment or adoption documents. He also said these horses are transported often at night. Now I have heard of these covert Wild Horse purchases before. I attempted to obtain a mame but he wouldnt budge. Fear was obvioys in his actions as he described the transfers of horses. He made a suggestion wild horse numbersay be going down covertly because of others like the man he was talking about obtaining them. He says those that cannot be resold without papers are placed at risk of being shot to death. Now I dont want to start Any rors pr perpetuate one. However, this young mans details and specifics about the transfer of horses reminds of the blackmarket horses funneled in Illinois in the past. I do not think there is any specific trainer in Illinois who is between 20-24 yrs old that specifically trains Mustangs and has a contract to recieve them from the BLM fresh off roundup.. Now if anyo e else has any knowledge please let me know.


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