Let the wild horses roam

The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Forest Service yesterday to protect wild horses in California’s Modoc National Forest. The lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, targets a plan that would eliminate more than 25,000 acres of wild horse territory in “Devil’s Garden” and result in a significant decline of the horse population.

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Here’s what you need to know:

Who filed the suit?

  • ALDF
  • Caldwell Leslie, a Los Angeles-based firm
  • Meyer Glitenstein & Crystal, a D.C. public interest environmental law firm

Who are the plaintiffs? 

  • American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign
  • Return to Freedom horse sanctuary
  • An individual California resident

What are the main points of the lawsuit? 

“The Forest Service’s decision violates federal animal protection and environmental laws and unlawfully prioritizes ranchers and privately-owned livestock above federally protected wild horses.”

What are the potential consequences of the Forest Service’s decision?

Up to 80% of the wild horse population could be rounded up by helicopter. Roundups separate horses from their families and often leads to sale for slaughter in Mexico and Canada.

What is Devil’s Garden?

A wild horse territory in California officially designated by the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, which was passed by Congress in 1971. The Forest Service, a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, manages the territory. According to ALDF, wild horses have lived in Devil’s Garden for at least 150 years.

Who is ALDF?