BREAKING ALERT (5:00 MDT):
We just got word from NM Congressman Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office that her Chief of Staff Gabello met with the U.S. Forest Service & was informed that the controversial Humbolt-Toiyabe roundup is postponed. It was made clear to the USFS that they need to give the public an opportunity to discuss this action.
WINNEMUCCA, Nev. (August 8, 2013) – Yesterday, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, informed the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC), a national coalition, that it was reneging on its previous commitment to provide public observation of the taxpayer-funded helicopter roundup of wild horses on public lands in the Humboldt Toiyable National Forest. The capture operation is set to begin tomorrow, Friday, August 9, 2013, at 5 a.m., and the wild horses that are rounded up are scheduled to go to slaughter auction the following week.
Today, attorneys for AWHPC, Return to Freedom, The Cloud Foundation and the Western Watersheds Project sent a letter to the USFS outlining its legal obligations to ensure that federally-protected wild horses are not captured and sent to slaughter. The letter also addressed the USFS’ obligation, under the First Amendment, to provide the public with the opportunity to observe this taxpayer-funded, federal operation.
The USFS plans to use helicopters to roundup as many as 700 wild horses from federal and tribal Lands in northern Nevada and turn them over to the tribes to sell for slaughter. This USFS plan will proceed despite the stated opposition of the Obama Administration and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to the practice of horse slaughter.
The roundup will take place on the Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone Reservation and public lands within the Humboldt Toiyabe National Forest, which is in close proximity to public lands where federally-protected wild horses live. Captured horses will be put up for auction on August 17, 2013 at the Fallon Livestock Exchange, which is frequented by kill buyers who buy horses and ship them to Canada or Mexico for slaughter. Taxpayers will foot the bill not only for the helicopter roundup but also for the transport of horses to the slaughter auction.
The USFS is required to protect wild horses and burros under the 1971 Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act.
“The Forest Service is shirking its obligations under federal law to protect wild horses and uphold the public’s First Amendment rights,” said Neda DeMayo, President of Return to Freedom, AWHPC’s founding organization. “This backroom deal between the Forest Service and the Paiute-Shoshone tribe to use our tax dollars to roundup wild horses and send them to a slaughter auction is outrageous and unacceptable. This is a betrayal of the American public and it raises the question of whether the federal government is using the tribes to launder protected wild horses to slaughter.”
“Unless the captured horses are branded, there is no way to verify their origin, and they are likely protected wild horses who have strayed from their nearby Herd Management Area,” said Ginger Kathrens, Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation. “We demand that the Forest Service release any captured, unbranded horses because they may, in fact, be wild horses that are federally protected from slaughter. The Forest Service must definitively verify that no federally protected mustangs are caught up in the dragnet of this helicopter assault and slaughter operation.” CONTINUED.. Read the rest of the story HERE