Protect Louisiana's Wild Horses at Fort Polk & Kisatchie National Forest
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For well over a century horses have roamed in what is now the Kisatchie National Forest in Louisiana, which is approximately 604,000 acres, in which the US Army at Fort Polk occupies approx 250,000 acres between to main areas.
In August 2015, a commander of JRTC Fort Polk Military Base approved (if not ordered) the removal of the horses. Previous Generals allowed the horses some even fought to preserve them, protecting the sanctity of the land, history and animals. In the past Army has at least tolerated the horses and some have actually enjoyed their presence. Some commanders appreciated them even enjoyed their presence and stated that he didn’t want to lose the horses, which had become an integral part of the environment of the training areas where they constituted an element of realism. The Commanders at Fort Polk come and go every couple of years, what has remained the same are the lower level directors of the Environmental Control / Range Control divisions, some of which are civilian contractors, it is possible they are the ones making a permanent decision on the behalf of future generations.While many of these wild horses resemble the horses that free ranged when hundreds of families lived in the area, others are small and compact, showing distinct characteristics of the early Spanish Mustang that was brought through the region by Native Americans and early traders. The population management of these horses cannot be a brute attack on their future ability to thrive and exist. Sadly this is exactly what is occurring today.
Read more about genetic significance here: Amicus Brief by Dr Sponenberg
On December 14th, 2016 Pegasus Equine Guardian Association (PEGA), 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).
Despite the ongoing litigation during Christmas 2017 Fort Polk began escalating their proposed plan to eliminate the wild and free-roaming heritage horses of Louisiana. This escalation brought forth new information and prompted a swift response by Pegasus Equine Guardian Association (PEGA), a Preliminary Injunction motion was filed on Monday, January 8th, 2018.
Information acquired as a result of a public records request to Texas State University has uncovered that at least 80k of federal grant money has been paid to Jacob Thompson Cattle LLC, also known as Thompson Horse Lot & Co. by Texas State University.
Texas State University who was awarded 1.75 mil by Army Corps of Engineers.
“The Corps has awarded Texas State’s Integrated Natural and Cultural Resources Team (INCRT) with several task orders totaling $1.75 million. The INCRT is an interdisciplinary team of specialists from departments and programs across the university led by Dr. Todd Ahlman, the director of our Center for Archaeological Studies. The Texas State team will conduct archaeological surveys and support the management of cultural resources at U.S. Air Force bases and training facilities in eight states.” See more here https://mailchi.mp/4d5d103101aa/news-from-the-hill?e=0d5b7510e3
The Thompson Kill pen located in Pitkin, LA is approximately 15 minutes diving distance from the south / east gates of Fort Polk. This organization and/or its agents are known for their questionable business practices, cruel treatment of horses, criminal charges, felony convictions related to livestock, and known for profiting off of Horse Slaughter.
We the people demand all parties currently involved, but not limited to the US Army at Fort Polk JRTC, Environmental/Range Control Divisions, Texas State University, Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, APHIS, comply to the following:
- First and foremost, Cease captures and round ups until complete environmental impact statement has been done and compliance for section 106 of Historic preservation act.
- Implement Protections for Louisiana's Heritage Horses, for they are culturally, historically and genetically significant.
- Cease collaboration with organizations the profit from shipping horses to slaughter such as the Thompson’s of Pitkin and/or Stanleys of Bastrop or any associates or agents.
- Cease collaboration with organizations including any 501c3 that have personnel with any animal or livestock cruelty charges or convictions
- Decrease frequency of roundups to once a year
- Decrease number of horses rounded up
- Only Collaborate with organizations who have a proven record and are committed to protecting the long term-welfare of these horses.
- Add a protection clause to any contracts associated with the removal of horses, preventing them from being sold at auction, to slaughter, or used for any inhumane purpose.
If round ups do to occur, The Army and its contractors or subcontractors should do the following, respectively:
- disclose its specific need to round up or remove horses at this time and from the area at issue,
- disclose the number of horses to be rounded up or removed,
- disclose information about the contractor/s and subcontractor/s who will round up or remove the horses, the principals who will participate in the round-up or removal, and the methods that will be used in the round-up or removal
- give Pegasus a 14-day electronic notice before the Army (including its contractors and subcontractors) or any other persons round up horses
- Pegasus will be allowed to send a representative and up to two assistants to observe and document (including film and photograph) the round-up or removal activities, including food-baiting, trapping, any other capture methods, handling, corralling, and loading.
- give Pegasus a 7-day electronic notice before removal of horses,
- shall allow Pegasus access to send a representative and up to two assistants to observe and document the horses and their shelter, feeding, watering, and grazing facilities at least once a week while the horses are in the Army’s (including its contractors and subcontractors) control.
- The Army will give Pegasus 48-hour notice and allow Pegasus to send a representative and up to two assistants to observe any further horse-handling activities other than ordinary feeding and watering, (except that notice of emergency veterinary care may be made less than 48 hours in advance where necessary.)
- shall provide food, water, shelter and veterinary care for the horses that is adequate to provide them with humane living conditions.
- shall provide copies of all applications and correspondence between parties seeking to acquire these horses and the Army (including its contractors and subcontractors) to Pegasus.
- will post on there public website all authorizations to acquire these horses on its website at least 7 days before allowing the horses to be acquired or otherwise removed from Fort Polk, and
- will provide transparency as to any transfer of horses to “kill buyers giving humane welfare organizations time to save them.
- shall require all adopters or buyers or other persons who have acquired Fort Polk horses under the horse-elimination program to update the Army every 6 months after acquiring the horses, as to their current status and care, including veterinary care and including current photographs of the horses and this should be posted to the Army's public website
Over the last 3 years we have witnessed inhumane acts such as horses being illegally darted and winched into trailers, inadequate capture and holding practices, free for all round ups that resulted in harm to the horses, roping of foals, foals being captured without their mothers, and a long list of alleged under-the -table dealings at the detriment of the horses.
It sure does appear that any entity who truly cares for these animals is receiving completely different treatment than entities whose goal is to profit off of the destruction of Louisiana's unique Wild and Free Roaming horses.
There should be a better set of solutions available, that may, in the end, include a mix of finding good adopters for some horses, non- permanent fertility control for others, and remain in place for yet others, along with some herd control measures to keep horses away from sensitive areas of the fort property. But the only way to find the best solutions is to engage in honest and open consultation with as many experienced humane organizations, equine welfare organizations and experts, as well as local stakeholders. We do not want this to continue without first fully and ethically considering the potential effects on the welfare of the horses, as well as the potential effects on the cultural landscape per section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, a complete Environmental Impact Statement, work to find sanctuary with Kisatchie's 604,000 acres and there should be an organization included whose sole purpose is to protect the welfare of these animals.
The horses should be protected and their long-term welfare considered regardless if they have been abandoned, if they are generationally wild or otherwise wild, their welfare is at stake.
Video of the herds in both locations as of end of April 2018
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