Animal rights group presses Army on wild horse roundups

by By JANET MCCONNAUGHEY as published in Stars and Stripes

Animal rights advocates want a federal court to make an Army base in western Louisiana stop rounding up hundreds of wild horses on land it owns or uses…

Horses graze in front of an armored Humvee at Fort Polk, La., on Sept. 20, 2014. Animal rights advocates want a federal court to make an Army base in Louisiana stop rounding up hundreds of wild horses on land it owns or uses. Court papers filed on Jan. 8, 2018, say Fort Polk began escalating efforts in November and may be trying to eliminate the herds before a judge can decide whether the roundups are legal. WILLIAM GORE/U.S. ARMY

Fort Polk began escalating efforts in November, and some captured horses are treated poorly and many may be slaughtered, the Pegasus Equine Guardian Association said in court papers backing up its request for a preliminary injunction.

People and groups that might adopt the horses, “are being arbitrarily rejected and removed from the potential adopter list, increasing the likelihood that ‘kill buyers’ will be able to acquire the horses,” the association wrote.

Justice Department spokesman Wyn Hornbuckle said in an email that the department cannot comment on pending litigation.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Kathleen Kay scheduled a hearing Jan. 30 in Lake Charles.

The association sued the Army and Fort Polk’s commanding officer in December 2016 over plans to get rid of about 700 “trespass horses” the Army considers a safety risk in training areas.

Most of the horses are on about 48,000 acres (19,400 hectares) in the Kisatchie National Forest — part of 90,000 acres (36,400 hectares) of forest land that the base uses for training, U.S. Forest Service spokesman Jim Caldwell has said.

The Army has lists of tax-exempt rescue groups and people interested in taking the horses. Its plan calls for notifying them after roundups of up to 30 horses. Any rescue group unable to take every horse from one roundup is struck from the list. Individuals who can’t pick up the number of horses they commit to within five days also are removed.

The horses have been there for decades, possibly more than a century. Some people speculate that the herds are descended from Army cavalry horses. Monday’s court filing, however, asserts the horses have roamed the area at least since the early 1800s. Fort Polk was founded in 1941.

Some look like descendants of horses acquired by Choctaw Indians from Spanish colonists, according to a letter from Jeannette Beranger, senior programs manager of The Livestock Conservancy, filed in the court record.

Some horses from isolated areas should get a closer look, which might prompt DNA tests to see if they are “Choctaw horses” or similar strains, wrote Phillip Sponenberg, a professor at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, in another document filed Monday. He said such horses would be valuable for conservation.

In a another court document, Jeff Dorson, head of the Humane Society of Louisiana, said he received complaints this month from tipsters who aren’t Pegasus officers about inhumane treatment of the horses.

Pegasus has received other allegations that “current contractors or subcontractors are not treating the horses humanely, failing to provide adequate and non-moldy hay and sufficient clean food and water, using inhumane round-up techniques, or engaging in practices that will favor moving the horses to kill buyers over animal welfare organizations or humane adopters,” the organization said.

One contractor or subcontractor, Jacob Thompson, “has been in legal trouble with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture, State of Texas, and State of Oklahoma for abuse, theft or other violations involving livestock,” according to Pegasus’ filing.

Thompson was fined $3,150 on Friday for violating five Louisiana regulations including selling livestock without a permit, Veronica Mosgrove, spokeswoman for the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, said in an email. She said his only state-licensed business is Thompson Horse Lot. The lot’s Facebook page states that it’s in Pitkin, which is near Fort Polk.

A call to the number on Thompson Horse Lot’s Facebook page was answered by a man who said, “We’re not interested in no press.” The man said he was not Jacob Thompson and hung up when asked his name.

https://www.stripes.com/news/army/animal-rights-group-presses-army-on-wild-horse-roundups-1.505920

Update on Fort Polk’s Move to Eliminate More Free Roaming Wild Horses

Update on Fort Polk’s Move to Eliminate More Free Roaming Wild Horses

For Immediate Press Release
Fort Polk, Louisiana

Despite public outcry and a lawsuit through Tulane Environmental Law Clinic, the U.S. Army at Fort Polk is continuing to allow removal of the free roaming horses (many generationally wild ) from the areas at Fort Polk, where they have lived (along with other wildlife) for many years. Recently, at least 18 more wild horses were captured.

Click below for a detailed explanation of  U.S. Army’s Course of Action 7: U.S. Army’s Removal Plan Designed to Benefit the Kill Buyer COA 7

The Army at Fort Polk can build elaborate corral systems and call folks from their “list” to haul these free roaming horses to the unknown, (some to auction stockyards and sold for meat price for purposes of slaughter in Mexico). The U.S. Army at Fort Polk can and should do the right thing and have them relocated to a safer area on adjacent lands that have nothing to do with the Army or training area or protected from removal.

The Army’s plan to “eliminate” these horses must be stopped until a solution can be put into place that considers the long term welfare of Louisiana’s Heritage Horses. There are close to 400,000 plus acres that are not owned or managed by the army, on USFS managed lands, that these migratory heritage animals could be relocated to and protected from exploitation.

Click here to read more about The Historical Importance of The Wild and Free Roaming Horses of Fort Polk… 

Read more about the lawsuit here: Lawsuit filed to protect Louisiana’s Wild Horses

Historically, wild or un-handled horses in the hands of the public (including some 501c3’s) equal disaster. A 501c3 designation does not mean anti-slaughter and it does not guarantee the horses safety nor their well-being, nor does “non-discriminatory give-away” of horses to the “interested public”.  Also these 501c3’s may not have the sustainable ability nor intent to feed and care for wild or un-handled horses long term.  Non profits depend on donated money to function and 501c3 designation does not necessarily mean they have the resources and expertise required to safely house, handle, and safely adopt/sell un-handled/wild horses to the general public.

Because of this, there are both animal and social welfare/safety implications with the Army’s chosen and intentional actions. This is arguably evidenced by a previous 501c3’s inability to disclose their whereabouts or to safely handle and adopt out at least some of the horses removed last year.

Read more about the implications of wild horses in the hands of 501c3’s and the general public here: PURPOSE AND OBJECTIVES of Pegasus Equine Guardian Association

Read more about horse slaughter here: For Horse Lovers Everywhere: The Truth About Horse Slaughter

Contact information for the Ft. Polk Public Affairs Office is:
7073 Radio Rd, Fort Polk, LA 71459
Phone: (337) 531-1418
Fax: (337) 531-6014
eMail: usarmy.polk.imcom.mbx.pao-public-response@mail.mil

**For Record, we ask that any communication sent to Fort Polk, regarding these horses, also be sent to: kisatchiehorses@gmail.com

Also please reach out to our Congress people to express your personal concern regarding the welfare of these horses. 

1.) Billy Nungesser , As Lt Governor, State Parks and Tourism fall under his rule. 
FB page: https://www.facebook.com/BillyNungesserPage/
Email: ltgov@crt.la.gov
Twitter: @BillyNungesser
Phone: (225) 342-1949

2.) Mike Strain – LA Ag Commissioner, USFS , USDA
Email: commissioner@ldaf.state.la.us
FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/DoctorStrain/
https://m.facebook.com/DoctorMikeStrain
Phone: 225.922.1234

3.) John Bel Edwards, Louisiana Governor
Twitter @JohnBelForLA
EMAIL: edwardsj@legis.la.gov
https://m.facebook.com/pages/John-Bel-Edwards-for-Louisiana/497483806955179
(985)748-2245

4.) LA-5 Ralph Abraham 202-225-8490
https://abraham.house.gov/contact

5.) LA-4 John Fleming 202-225-2777
https://fleming.house.gov/contact/contactform.htm

VIEW THE LAWSUIT HERE.

Contact Information

Amy Hanchey, President
Pegasus Equine Guardian Association
PO Box 82564
Lafayette, La 70598
Phone: (337) 739-0036
Email: admin@pegasusequine.org
Machelle Lee Hall, La. Bar 31498

6329 Freret Street
New Orleans, LA 70118-6321
Phone: (504) 862-8819
Fax: (504) 862-8721
Email: mhall@tulane.edu
Counsel for Pegasus Equine Guardian Association

Whither the “Wild” Horses of Louisiana?

By Fran Jurga as published on EQUUS

Wild Horse Advocates Challenge US Army in Legal Standoff

tjr-wild-horses-of-louisiana-640

Herds of wild horses roam the United States under many jurisdictions. One of the most unusual–and contentious–has been the fight over the fate of a herd in Louisiana that likes to range into the US military base at Fort Polk, Louisiana. The US Army wants the trespassers to leave. Their defenders want the Army to keep their hands off these horses. The next range they’ll roam will be the US court  system, as advocates sue to protect the rights of the wild horses you probably never even knew were there.

 An advocacy group called the Pegasus Equine Guardian Association (PEGA) is rounding up support for its day in court with the US Army at Fort Polk. The struggle between advocates and the military goes back to the first roundups in the 1990s. At that time, state officials were accused of pressuring the military to get rid of the horses…(CONTINUED)

http://equusmagazine.com/blog/defending-wild-horses-louisiana-citizens-army-standoff-legal-case-54784

Lawsuit filed to protect Louisiana’s Wild Horses

For Immediate Press Release
Fort Polk, Louisiana (December 14, 2016)

fort-polk-horses-5

Today, Pegasus Equine Guardian Association, represented by Tulane Environmental Law Clinic, filed a lawsuit in the Louisiana District Court against the US Army at Fort Polk Louisiana, charging that the Army’s plan to eliminate herds of horses violates the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA).

The suit is about the historic and cultural significance the free roaming Heritage Horses have on the landscapes of Western Louisiana and the Army’s intention and actions to “eliminate” them. Wild horse herds across the United States are remnants of our country’s earliest history and they exist in the Kisatchie National Forest region of Louisiana, where they roamed on vast grazing areas near abundant water sources and dense stands of trees that sheltered them from harm and the elements for generations. They were in the area long before Louisiana became a state in 1812. Horses referred to today as Spanish Colonial Horses, were obtained from the Spanish and brought from Texas by Native Americans to the Kisatchie region. The Caddoan, Comanche and Avoyel horse cultures traded them with the French and others to the north and east, past the Mississippi as early as 1682 (r1). This is also the Louisiana Purchase and Neutral Zone region where thousands of wild cattle and horses were driven from the Piney woods of East Texas near the Sabine Parish area to the Natchitoches livestock markets on a trail known as Old Beef Trail or Burrs Ferry Road. This small, compact horse is found in the wild herds of Peason Ridge, LA and in the remote areas down toward Fort Polk, LA. As settlers moved to the region and made farming their livelihood, they documented the numbers of livestock produced (r2). In the mid 1800’s, thousands of horses were free ranged with no fencing on vast grazing areas in today’s Sabine, Vernon, Beauregard, Rapides, Grant, Natchitoches, Webster, Claiborne and Winn Parishes, Leesville and Fort Polk. Furthermore, auction and estate sale records show hundreds of saddle horses and wild horses were sold in these areas. Horses and mules also came by railroad and were transportation for the area’s sawmill towns and massive logging industry. When commercial logging subsided, some horses were reported loosed with existing wild horses, others were left behind when the army took over Heritage Families’ land by eminent domain (r3).

Horses of every size and age were also utilized by the military from locals and used as “remounts” and service animals because of the shortage of regulation cavalry horses. Hundreds served alongside the cavalry horses during the Louisiana Maneuvers of 1941 involving over 400,000 men (17,000 mounted Cavalry Troops) in preparation for WWII.

“Those horses are part of our ecosystem. They were here before we got here and we just have to figure out how we’re going to deal with that,” 
– Retired Army General Russel Honore’

“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 Fort 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, wild horse expert, President and founder of Return to Freedom.

“The Army’s plan sets a dangerous precedent for future viability of these unique horses. The unique herds of truly wild horses 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 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 a welfare standpoint. Regardless if the horses are abandoned, generationally wild or otherwise wild, their welfare and long term viability is at stake.”
– Amy Hanchey, President, Pegasus Equine Guardian Association

Citizens and animal welfare organizations have expressed concerns for the welfare of these innocent creatures. Locals have reported seeing them in the area as long as they can remember. Several attempts have been made to collect information pertaining to the horses on behalf of Pegasus Equine Guardian Association, however the Army has been unable to provide basic information regarding Louisiana’s Piney Horses. 

Reference 1 USDA USFS Kisatchie Heritage Program
Reference 2: A Good Home for a Poor Man: Fort Polk and Vernon Parish, 1800-1940 by Steven D. Smith
Reference 3: www.PolkHistory.org

View Complaint Here

Amy Hanchey, Pres. of Pegasus Equine Guardian Assoc., on efforts to save Fort Polk wild horses in Louisiana, on Wild Horse & Burro Radio (Wed., 12/14/16)

painy

Wild_Horse_Burro_Radio_LogoJoin us on Wild Horse Wednesdays®, Dec. 14, 2016

5:00 pm PST … 6:00 pm MST … 7:00 pm CST … 8:00 pm EST

Listen to the archived show (HERE!)

You can also listen to the show on your phone by calling (917) 388-4520.

You can call in with questions during the 2nd half hour, by dialing (917) 388-4520, then pressing 1.

This show will be archived so you can listen to it anytime.

img_7214Wild horses at Fort Polk

Our guest tonight is Amy Hanchey, Pres. of Pegasus Equine Guardian Association, that is striving to protect the wild horses on the main post at Fort Polk, Louisiana, as well as at Peason Ridge, and throughout Kisatchie National Forest. The U.S. Army at Fort Polk is in the process of removing wild horses from ranges and pine forests that the horses have inhabited for many generations.

Despite the fact that Ft. Polk Commanding General Gary Brito has said the removal of the horses is to be humane, in actuality, the Army has shown no serious concern, and will shoulder no responsibility for what happens to the horses after they are removed. That very likely means the horses will end up going to a cruel death at slaughterhouses in Mexico and Canada.

Find out how you can help save the Fort Polk wild horses.

This show will be hosted by R.T. Fitch, Pres. of Wild Horse Freedom Federation.

To contact us: ppj1@hush.com, or call 320-281-0585

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