Challenging the Sale of Wild Horses from Devil’s Garden, California

The Animal Legal Defense Fund and the American Wild Horse Campaign filed a federal lawsuit challenging the Forest Service’s plans to round up and sell horses living in the Devil’s Garden Wild Horse Territory in northeast California’s Modoc National Forest.

Updated

December 18, 2018

Work Type

Litigation

Status

Active

Next Step

Preliminary Injunction Hearing Stayed

Due to government shutdown

The Animal Legal Defense Fund and the American Wild Horse Campaign filed a federal lawsuit challenging the Forest Service’s plans to round up and sell horses living in the Devil’s Garden Wild Horse Territory in northeast California’s Modoc National Forest.

The federal government routinely conducts dangerous, and sometimes fatal, roundups of wild horses. After horses are collected, many are sold for slaughter in other countries.

The territory, established in 1975, is federally managed by the Forest Service, a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It is long-standing policy for the Forest Service, in connection with the Bureau of Land Management, to sell some of the horses rounded up in Devil’s Garden and other federally managed lands. But in the past, these horses have always been sold “with restrictions” — meaning that the horses could not then be resold for slaughter.

In 2018, for the first time, the Forest Service is allowing some of these horses to be sold “without limitation,” removing the protection from slaughter. This new policy applies to horses who are more than 10 years old, if they haven’t been otherwise sold within 60 days of the roundup period. These horses who can be sold for slaughter have been priced at just $1 each, with each purchaser eligible to buy up to 36 horses at a time.

Who is being sued, why, and under what law? The lawsuit argues that the Forest Service’s plan violates the federal Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, the Administrative Procedure Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and California Penal Code section 598c — a state law that makes the slaughter and export of horses for human consumption a felony.

What court is the lawsuit filed in? The United States District Court for the Northern District of California.

Why this case is important: The law doesn’t allow the Forest Service to go forward with its plans, and the American people don’t want to see wild horses be rounded up and sold to slaughter.

Recent News

  • Coalition Files Lawsuit to Protect Devil’s Garden Wild Horses from Slaughter

    The Animal Legal Defense Fund and the American Wild Horse Campaign have filed a federal lawsuit challenging the U.S. Forest Service's plans to round up and sell horses living in the Devil’s Garden Wild Horse Territory in northeast California.
    October 26, 2018 News
  • Update on the Farm Bill

    This week the Farm Bill was approved by the U.S. House and Senate. The bill includes important provisions that will protect animals, and most importantly, does not contain the King amendment.
    December 13, 2018 News
  • Factory Farm Exemptions from Key Environmental Law Challenged in Court

    This week, a coalition of organizations, led by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, filed a lawsuit challenging a 2016 decision by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) to exempt some factory farms from critical environmental laws.
    December 13, 2018 News

Related Cases

Looking for case and legal resources? View Resources

See More

End Wildlife Services’ War on Wildlife

Millions of native wild animals, including coyotes, mountain lions, and bears, are targeted and killed by Wildlife Services. Tell Wildlife Services to stop using your tax dollars to slaughter animals by signing our petition.

Sign Petition