Press Release: The US Army is proceeding with the removal of wild horses from Louisiana’s ranges and piney forests.

November 3rd, 2016

The US Army is in the process of removing wild horses from Louisiana’s ranges and piney forests. These horses have inhabited this area for generations.

There are two things seriously wrong with this:

First, taking the horses out of their natural environment of which they are a part, destroys their standing as generationally wild horses and ends their historic role as an important part of the region’s earliest beginnings and of the heritage of Americans who have come to appreciate our wild horses as American icons.

Secondly, although Ft. Polk’s Command, General Gary Brito, has said the removal of the horses is to be humane, in actuality, the Army has shown no serious concern for what happens to the horses after they are removed. They are leaving those concerns to those whom the Army allows to take them. That very likely means the horses will end up going to a cruel death at slaughterhouses in Mexico and Canada.

The Army’s Joint Readiness Training Center [JRTC, Ft. Polk] encompasses approximately 150,000 acres in west-central Louisiana, bordering parts of the Kisatchie National Forest (604,000 acres in totality), and partially interspersed with private holdings and state wildlife management areas. The JRTC conducts simulated warfare exercises, where a resident “enemy” army battles visiting military units (some from foreign countries).

Surprisingly for some, the region has been home to hundreds of wild horses since the early twentieth century, if not longer. Much of the JRTC and surrounding lands are covered in piney forests and rangeland where the horses have lived and freely roamed for decades.

To more fully understand the situation, it’s extremely important to realize that the truly wild horses, (numbering close to a hundred or more) characterized by their uniformity in coloration, physical characteristics, gait and wild horse behavior in individual family bands (with stallions and their harems of mares), inhabit an area that includes the Peason Ridge “hot” training area where weapons are fired. When activity starts in the Peason Ridge area, the horses make themselves scarce.

Approximately twenty miles south of Peason Ridge, the army’s Training area at Fort Polk is also occupied by horses, but they are less disturbed by the army’s training activities. These horses are a mix of some abandoned horses, their offspring, and wild horses (similar to the larger herd of wild horses up in Peason Ridge) that have become more acclimated to the commotion of the army’s activities. Failing to understand the distinction between the two groups of horses has led to the faulty perception that they all are abandoned, when this is not the case at all.

Because there are wild horses down by Fort Polk as well as the larger wild horse herds at Peason Ridge, and throughout Kisatchie National Forest; Pegasus Equine Guardian Association (Pegasus) strives to preserve and protect them. That’s not to say that the other (abandoned) horses are not also a matter of serious concern that also deserve to be kept from harm’s way or going to slaughter.

See: pictures of the two groups of horses  https://pegasusequine.wordpress.com/

Peason Ridge Louisiana Horses
Peason Ridge Louisiana Horses
12049676_1506958286267885_1930132127782923567_n
Peason Ridge Louisiana Horses
img_2077a
Fort Polk Louisiana Horses
IMG_7214
Fort Polk Louisiana Horses

Ft. Polk spokespersons seem to have intentionally fostered the misconceptions and confusion by focusing media attention on the horses on and around Ft. Polk Main (that are abandoned) and avoiding any recognition of the truly wild horses near Fort Polk and the larger wild horse herd at Peason Ridge. This has made Pegasus’ attempts to enlist the public in their campaign to preserve and protect the environmentally and culturally valuable wild horses of Louisiana more difficult. Their propaganda calls the horses “trespass” horses. “Trespass” means illegally coming onto the land. The label is certainly usable to demean some recently abandoned horses. But, what about the majority of the horses: those that have reverted to the wild state, and those wild horses that were born into wild bands on JRTC lands. The truly wild horses they have called “trespass horses in their progeny”. It fits into their propaganda scheme, but how absurd in reality.

For more on the Army’s publicized Course of Action visit: U.S. Army’s Removal Plan Designed to Benefit the Kill Buyer COA 7

Soldiers are injured and killed in accidents at Ft. Polk, but never has any such accident involved the horses. Frankly, Ft. Polk has underhandedly cited anything, no matter how far-fetched, in hopes of justifying to the public their compulsion, driven by only a few, to “eliminate” the horses. But, sometimes the horses are present on the “Geronimo” parachute drop zone at Ft. Polk Main. And, there could, even though it has never happened before, be a collision between a “jumper” and a horse. Since trainees can surely do without such distraction, it does make sense to take precautions. But, wouldn’t it be OK just to exclude the horses from the places where they may, from time to time, be a nuisance. Pegasus wants the Army to establish protected sanctuaries for the horses where the number of horses could be reduced over time with the fertility controlling drug PZP. This would keep the horses safe from going to slaughter, which Pegasus, with good reason, believes would be their fate otherwise. Any such operation could be funded and run by non-government organizations, sparing the Army an added expense which they say they cannot afford. If necessary, those organizations could manage and carefully oversee adoption of horses.

Ft. Polk has recently acquired 45,000 acres between Ft. Polk Main and Peason Ridge. But, Ft. Polk Col. Gregg Athey has indicated the Army will need to use all the land, and the training units will be larger. However, Pegasus observes that the size of training units have been becoming smaller, not larger. And, the training areas formerly used (for training troops for Vietnam and Desert Storm) are more than adequate for the foreseeable future. Of course, the actual need could change abruptly, and other arrangements would have to be made for the horses. But, Ft. Polk has tolerated them for many decades. They ought to be able to tolerate them a little longer while reasonable accommodations can be made for them, and not continue to rush into a situation that can only end very badly for the horses.

Putting it simply from the point of view of those hoping to preserve and protect the horses: the JRTC has no plan addressing the likelihood that the horses will be, however unintentionally, sucked into the horse slaughter “pipeline”, a grisly, horribly cruel, and well organized machine that eagerly and impatiently waits to grab unwanted horses, domestic, wild or generationally wild.

The horses have been appreciated by many, including locals, visitors to the area, and Army personnel alike for many decades. Some have maintained that all of the horses lend an air of realism to the manufactured 3rd World setting, and an element of unpredictability typical of authentic military operations. In fact, a former JRTC commander, General Samuel Thompson, wrote in May, 1999, “I don’t want to lose those herds!”

Pegasus is asking you, the public, to let the Army know we want the wild horses to stay in Kisatchie, humanely managed or placed in proper care only when necessary, and we want all of the horses to be kept from slaughter.

The contact information for the Ft. Polk Public Affairs Office is:

7073 Radio Rd, Fort Polk, LA 71459

Phone: (337) 531-7203

Fax: (337) 531-6014

eMail: usarmy.polk.imcom.mbx.pao-public-response@mail.mil

Pegasus asks that any communication sent to Fort Polk also be sent to:

kisatchiehorses@gmail.com for a record that will be supplied to General Brito.

Pegasus Equine Guardian Association Contact:                                                                                    Amy Hanchey, operationcowgirl@gmail.com , 337-739-0036

Part II

According to some locals, the soldiering exercises on JRTC lands have coexisted with the wild horses as far back as they can remember (before WWII). Army training began in the area, circa 1941, before our entry into World War II. We still had mounted cavalry. General George Patton, had been an Olympic equestrian competitor (1912), and was a mounted cavalry officer in Hawaii before participating in the “Louisiana Maneuvers” in 1941. The maneuvers tested tanks against anti-tank weapons and 32,000 cavalry horses, including the 10th Cavalry “Buffalo Soldiers”. The horses actually won the first round. Incidentally, General Brito, the Ft. Polk Commander, comes from the same Hawaiian infantry that trained at Ft. Polk in the early years of its existence. Near the end of the war, some of Patton’s men, in cooperation with some of our German adversaries, risked their lives behind the lines to save from the advancing Russian Army the famous Lipizzaner Stallions, the grand white performing war horses of Austria, and champion Polish Arabians. It was expected, as they had done before, that the food-deprived Russian “liberators” would have slaughtered and eaten the horses.

In the 1800’s, Custer’s 7th cavalry operated in Louisiana prior to his appointment with destiny near the Little Big Horn river in Montana, June, 1876. At that time, southwest Louisiana was a kind of no-man’s land. Custer, under Sheridan’s orders, had ruthlessly massacred Indians, and many hundreds of their horses, while his regimental band played “Garryowen”, in the Indian wintering grounds in the Red River region that divides Texas and Oklahoma. The valley of the Red River extends from there down into central Louisiana making a “highway” for horses that reverted to their wild state.

Now, do to the efforts of a few, including pressure from a ranking civilian administrator, and the acquiescence of a short-term commanding general who sought to modernize Ft. Polk, it has been ordered that the horses must go.

Their propaganda calls the horses “trespass” horses. “Trespass” means illegally coming onto the land. The label is certainly usable to demean some recently abandoned horses. But, what about the majority of the horses: those that have reverted to the wild state, and those wild horses that were born into wild bands on JRTC lands. The truly wild horses they have called “trespass horses in their progeny”. It fits into their propaganda scheme, but how absurd in reality.

Putting it simply from the point of view of those hoping to preserve and protect the horses: the JRTC has no plan addressing the likelihood that the horses will be, however unintentionally, sucked into the horse slaughter “pipeline”, a grisly, horribly cruel, and well organized machine that eagerly and impatiently waits to grab unwanted horses, domestic or wild.

Here’s what Ft. Polk intends: Without any attempt to mark or trace the horses, they say they will give horses to charitable animal rescue organizations. Failing that, they will give the horses to anyone who wants them, and trust them to humanely care for the horses.

That’s what they say. However, they have been in communication, not only with charities, one in particular that says they can take all of the horses (a doubtful prospect), but also with known “kill buyers” who channel horses into the slaughter “pipeline”. Contrary to what Ft. Polk says publicly, one man gave written testimony that Ft. Polk offered him, as an individual, all of the horses.

The Bureau of Land Management [BLM], the Department of Interior agency charged with the protection of wild horses on their wild horse ranges, is holding more than 44,000 horses and more than 11,000 burros they have removed and are keeping in holding facilities awaiting adoption. Even though they have taken significant precautions, including permanent, unalterable and unmistakably visible freeze-brand markings on the horses they adopt out, their horses still end-up at Mexican and Canadian horse slaughterhouses.  Too often, adopters find their good intention of adopting a “mustang” was unrealistic. And, of course, there are “adopters” who’s intention from the start is selling horses at auction, where there is a very high probability that the purchaser will be a “kill buyer” who channels the horse to the slaughterhouse.

If the BLM, with their precautions, can’t keep horses out of the slaughter “pipeline”, Ft. Polk, with no serious precautions, certainly won’t be doing it.

Because of drought conditions in the West, and the large numbers of wild horses which have been taken off the land, and those already in sanctuaries that need to be provided for, it is not likely that wild horses taken off JRTC lands will have a rosy future. In fact, slaughter is the likely outcome.

Why is slaughter so devastatingly cruel?

Slaughter is a convenient way for excess horses to be eliminated. Many breeders intentionally over-breed. About 100,000 horses per year go to slaughter. The propaganda here is that animals are better off dead than in the hands of those who neglect or abuse them. Slaughter proponents say something like, “If people in other countries consume horse meat, and if slaughter is humane, then what’s the problem?”

Firstly, there is no humane horse slaughter. Starting with the means of transportation: Horses are fractious animals that want to flee danger. When jammed together in a frightening situation, they fight. Transporters have poked out their eyes to make them manageable. After a journey of hundreds of miles into Mexico and Canada where the slaughterhouses are, and without having been fed or watered, the horses are immobilized. The slaughter line is required to move fast, and the workers are men who can get no other employment. Some are rejects from society that violently take their frustration out on the horses. Horses are in panic as they go to slaughter, seemingly knowing their fate. In Mexico, horses are prevented from struggling by cutting into the spine with a dagger. In Canada, they are shot in the head with a small caliber bullet. Neither, kills the horse. In other slaughterhouses in these countries where horses are brought from the United States to be slaughtered, a pneumatic (high pressure air) gun is used. It has a “captive” bolt that pops out and is supposed to strike the horse in the forehead. But, the horse’s head is not sufficiently restrained, and it may take multiple shots to sufficiently immobilize the horse. The horse is painfully wounded with each shot, as its head is lacerated and its skull is crushed. Often, the horse enters the slaughtering procedure only stunned, but not unconscious. The horse dies in circumstances which can only be described as torture.

Secondly, horses, we often hear, have a special place in the hearts of people who want them respected as animals upon whom we have depended for our progress, and which are integral to our American heritage. Those people want our horses to be treated with kindness, not brutally slaughtered to satisfy the palates of wealthy, self-absorbed individuals in Belgium, France, Japan, and elsewhere.

So, what are the alternatives for the horses on the JRTC lands?

The obvious conclusion, considering the vastness of government lands in the region, is to preserve the horses as wild horses where they now exist, managing their population if necessary (which may or may not be necessary depending on environmental factors), and excluding them from areas where they may be a nuisance for the Army.

“In light of the thousands of wild horses and burros that the federal government wants to remove from the range in Nevada and elsewhere, it would be irresponsible for the Department of Defense to move forward without a long-term, humane management plan for the Ft. Polk horses. We respectfully urge the Army to partner with local organizations to create and implement a humane management plan, using safe, proven fertility control, to reduce the number of horses over time..” – Neda DeMayo, nationally known wild horse expert: Return to Freedom , The American Wild Horse Campaign, a coalition of organizations dealing with current wild horse crisis issues and The Wild Horse and Burro Sanctuary Alliance (WHSBA) ; a coalition founded in a collaborative effort by Return to Freedom, Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary, Lifesavers Wild Horse Rescue, and Habitat for Horses.

Soldiers are injured and killed in accidents at Ft. Polk, but never has any such accident involved the horses. Frankly, Ft. Polk has underhandedly cited anything, no matter how far-fetched, in hopes of justifying to the public their compulsion, driven by only a few, to “eliminate” the horses. But, sometimes the horses are present on the “Geronimo” parachute drop zone at Ft. Polk Main. And, there could, even though it has never happened before, be a collision between a “jumper” and a horse. Since trainees can surely do without such distraction, it does make sense to take precautions. But, wouldn’t it be OK just to exclude the horses from the places where they may, from time to time, be a nuisance. Pegasus wants the Army to establish protected sanctuaries for the horses where the number of horses could be reduced over time with the fertility controlling drug PZP. This would keep the horses safe from going to slaughter, which Pegasus, with good reason, believes would be their fate otherwise. Any such operation could be funded and run by non-government organizations, sparing the Army an added expense which they say they cannot afford. If necessary, those organizations could manage and carefully oversee adoption of horses.

Ft. Polk has recently acquired 45,000 acres between Ft. Polk Main and Peason Ridge. But, Ft. Polk Col. Gregg Athey has indicated the Army will need to use all the land, and the training units will be larger. However, Pegasus observes that the size of training units have been becoming smaller, not larger. And, the training areas formerly used (for training troops for Vietnam and Desert Storm) are more than adequate for the foreseeable future. Of course, the actual need could change abruptly, and other arrangements would have to be made for the horses. But, Ft. Polk has tolerated them for many decades. They ought to be able to tolerate them a little longer while reasonable accommodations can be made for them, and not continue to rush into a situation that can only end very badly for the horses.

Pegasus is asking you, the public, to let the Army know we want the wild horses to stay in Kisatchie, humanely managed or placed in proper care only when necessary, and we want all of the horses to be kept from slaughter.

The contact information for the Ft. Polk Public Affairs Office is:

7073 Radio Rd, Fort Polk, LA 71459

Phone: (337) 531-7203

Fax: (337) 531-6014

EMail: usarmy.polk.imcom.mbx.pao-public-response@mail.mil

Pegasus asks that any communication sent to Fort Polk also be sent to:

kisatchiehorses@gmail.com for a record that will be supplied to General Brito.

Pegasus Equine Guardian Association Contact: Amy Hanchey, operationcowgirl@gmail.com , 337-739-0036

image1 (1).JPG

Peason Ridge Louisiana Horses

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s