Caring individuals made a simple request for the humane, ethical, conservative approach to addressing the equine presence at Fort Polk Military base and Kisatchie national forest as a whole. Although our focus is centered around the welfare of the horses, the safety of civilians and soldiers is paramount. However the gross disregard for the public’s opinion is extremely concerning, as is the attempt to paint caring individuals as activists which has a negative connotation. This is a classic tactic and frankly inappropriate and inflammatory. The horses need a voice focused on their welfare, this is not activism, rather advocacy.
The claim of receiving only 717 comments by the Sept 2nd deadline, is questionable at best, given the number of people who have called or emailed the army base along with the petition and support shown via social/news media.
By the end of the comment period on sept 2nd over 1200 individuals sent approx 2,736 letters to Congress. Currently support grows with approx 1930 individuals sending over 4000 letters to Congress. These Comments are viewable online.
Public demand for conservative, humane, ethical treatment of these animals is undeniable and support continues to grow as seen by the steady increase in support gained since sept 2nd.
The claim that their permits sufficiently safeguard horses from ending up on slaughter trucks is complete a farce. With no tracking or follow up procedures in place, the claim is a sham. There have been multiple instances of fort polk/ kisatchie horses end up in kill pens, leaving their foals behind far too early. Whether this occurred under current permit or under their noses, the inability to safeguard these horses, by the current leadership is clear. Also before any horse can be moved, it must have a negative Coggins This has also fallen by the wayside
It seems clear that General McGuire’s intention is to disregard the voices of over a thousand citizens by ignoring input. This, Sir, is unconscionable.
There is strong historical evidence that the horses came into the area with the Hernando de Soto Expedition (1539-1543). Free-roaming horses came into the area from various sources including American Indians (1800’s), Heritage Families and the U.S. Calvary (1940’s). Their progeny still roam this area today.
The Commanders at Fort Polk come and go every couple of years. Previous Generals allowed the horses some even fought to preserve them, protecting the sanctity of the land, history and animals. It is grossly unfair that a temporary commander is making a permanent decision on the behalf of future generations. There is a very real possibility that some of the remote herds are of Spanish Mustang decent, and would be Federally protected and should not be managed to extinction. The population management of these horses can not be brute attack on their future ability to thrive and exist. Many methods of non-permanent fertility control have been unsuccessful and even detrimental to the health and existence of these horses. It is vital that this process is done with careful, conservative, scientific consideration.
I am sure a portion of the 370,000 dollars could be used to repair fencing, implement new barriers such as cattle guards, provide sanctuary or assistance with relocation for some of the domesticated horses, these are just a few simple steps that could be taken to ensure soldiers lives are protected. Once that is done, addressing remaining herd population issues will be appropriate .
The current equine removal process as it exists under Gen McGuire has accomplished exactly the opposite of his stated objectives. The General has created an environment that has posed a threat to public welfare, the soldiers and exposed the government to liability. In addition, there have been well documented cases of animal cruelty in violation of animal cruelty laws. The capture program has stirred up community disputes and exposed a U.S. Military base to an open access- one that should never be so relaxed in a post 9-11 world. Structure and security is missing for all involved. There has been a reckless disregard for order that Ft. Polk refuses to acknowledge
Choosing to protect both the soldiers and the horses can become a tremendously positive image builder for the military, especially Fort Polk and encompassing parishes.
This area of Louisiana is especially rich in national heritage and is known for its love of freedom,love of country and love of kin. Louisiana and this central Louisiana people are hugely patriotic and supportive of the military. We are also proud of our history and our heritage. These horses are an important part of the history, culture, and heritage of this area.
We implore Officials to devise and execute an ethical and humane solution to the equine presence in Kisatchie / Fort Polk / Peason Ridge. One that allows the military, the civilians and the Horses to peacefully and safely coexist as they have done for the past 75+ years.
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