Since the US Army’s 2015 public announcement to “eliminate” Louisiana’s Wild and Free Roaming horses, locals and advocates have been extremely concerned. This proposed plan was immediately met with strong public resistance, however the Army at Fort Polk has continued to move forward with this plan for elimination; a plan most US citizens would certainly disapprove of.
Locals and advocates have pleaded with the Army to consider the welfare of these unique horses, however it seems our concerns have fallen on deaf ears.
Direct requests have been made to Army Officials from countless individuals and humane organizations; requesting that they refrain from working with individuals or organizations who would profit from the slaughter of these unique horses, specifically but not limited to Thompson Kill Pen in Pitkin, LA (aka THL, Thompson Horse Lot, or Double S Kill Pen)
Sadly, the US Army and Civilian Officials managing this initiative have completely ignored direct request and public sentiment by subcontracting with the Thompson’s of Pitkin, LA who are suspected to have been hired by the primary contract holder Texas State University, led by Todd Ahlman, Director of the Center for Archaeological Studies at Texas State University http://www.txstate.edu/
Thompson Horse Lot (THL) is comprised of individuals who profit from shipping horses to slaughter. The Army at JRTC -Fort Polk has seemingly decided to “line the pockets” these individuals, some have felony convictions for offensives directly involving horses and other animals; convicted of the following charges; first degree felony theft of livestock and a second degree felony theft of property and as recent as Jan 5th, 2018 this individual was found guilty of the following:
1) Selling of Livestock without a Permit
2) Engaging in commercial sale of Livestock without a Surety Bond.
3) Transportation of animals across state lines without proper Health Certificates
4) Transportation of Equines across state lines without EIA (Coggins) certs
5) Improper disposal of animal remains
National organizations, namely HSUS, have submitted suggestions regarding humane management of our unique horses, however these suggestions seem to have been basically ignored by the Military and Civilian authorities that control the ranges. See HSUS plan submitted during initial comment period and as part of the Environmental Assessment here: HSUS comments to Fort Polk
Thompson Horse Lot (THL) has been implicated in numerous disease outbreaks, as well as other criminal activity over the years. One of the most recent cases involved a horse named, Major’s Intimidator who was for sale on the Thompson Horse Lot. December 9th, 2017 Major was paid for by an individual wanting to save him.
Sadly, on December 26th, 2017 the Thompson’s long standing vet, Dr. Ted J. Hoerner of DeRidder, La notified buyer that “Major’s Intimidator” died on the Thompson’s Horse Lot from Strangles.
See more about Major’s Intimidator here: https://www.facebook.com/thompsonhorselot1/videos/1564642123620108/
THL’s vet, Dr. Ted J. Hoerner failed to report this disease to LA State Vet as required by law.
Strangles is a reportable disease in the State of Louisiana in accordance with R.S. 3:2093, R.S. 3:2094 and R.S. 3:2095. “All veterinarians practicing veterinary medicine in the state of Louisiana shall report any of the following…”.
See more here from Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry. http://www.ldaf.state.la.us/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Title7ReportableDiseaseReportingRequirement.pdf
Negligence by US Army at Fort Polk has exposed these wild horses to diseases found in domestic horses and kill pens in the area. Wild horses, while healthy out in the wild, have with very organic immune systems and are particularly susceptible to disease pathogens, such as Strangles, commonly found in domestic livestock and kill pens in the area as well as toxins in moldy hay etc. Also stress of improper capturing methods and improper holding practices can wreak havoc on their systems.
Strangles is highly contagious disease found predominately in domestic horses and Kill Pens. Strangles is transmitted very easily on unclean infected surfaces.
The Thompsons are reported to be using their own feed buckets, trailers, ropes, and other tools. We also have eye witness report and testimony of potentially illegal capture methods, namely use of tranquilizer gun. We have seen this before during 2015, so we know It’s not just baiting type “gathers” and removals these poor horses have been subjected to over the years.Others have been tranquilizer darted to be captured and/or loaded with very rough inhumane handling.
After reviewing the timeline below, from Freedom Reins Ranch and Rescue you will see that the Thompsons were capturing horses during the suspected time of exposure to Strangles.
Here is the timeline as reported from Freedom Reins Ranch and Rescue:
“December 22-23, 2017 Reports were received that Jacob Thompson was seen rounding up horses on Fort Polk……
January 12th, the ponies were released to us. As we did with the first group, we brought the horses to the Leesville rodeo arena to process the ponies… Spirit is pictured on January 12th with mucus. Her adopter confirmed that she saw mucus that day, and thought it was from the dust in the arena. The picture is within a few hours of arrival.
(Initial signs of infection were presented in one horse with a runny nose however it was believed that this was due to stress from inadequate holding and feeding as well as environmental changes were to blame)
Monday, January 29th, 2018, the first mare to develop symptoms developed an abscess….
Friday, February 2nd, 2018 we were called with the results of the test on the mare, and she was positive for Strangles.”
See full description of timeline from Freedom Reins Ranch and Rescue here: https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=1655874627792202&id=785639498149057
Now lets talk numbers:
In 2015 Fort Polk JRTC reported approx. 700 horses on post, however local consensus seemed to be more around the 350 mark. It is suspected that removals did occurred between 2015 and 2016 under the previous Permit Capture Agreement called Hold Harmless Agreement (as seen below)
Since 2016 implementation of the Army’s Elimination plan, labeled COA 7, documented removal numbers report approximately 104 Horses removed:
2016 HSNT removed approx. 65
2017 Freedom Reins approx. 39
It is likely that the more “domesticated” horses were already removed. It is suspected that some of the abandoned/dumped horses would be easier targets as they were likely bigger, probably easier to handle, and bring more money per lb. This may be why the majority of horses removed in the 2017 round ups are smaller in stature, similar to a Choctaw Horse type or other smaller breed type found in the Kisatchie region and other areas of South-central Louisiana over a century ago. Additionally, wild, free roaming horses and their offspring are considered wild unless proven otherwise with bills of sale or other clear indication of ownership. All living wild horses in our country are of domestic origin, somewhere in their lineage, but they have returned to the wild to live as wild, free roaming herds; generationally speaking. The term “feral” only means that horses came from domestic origin, somewhere in their lineage. As such, feral also does not mean livestock. As naturally migratory grazers, wild, free roaming bands (that make up the herds) forage and live, with their families and herd-mates in the Kisatchie National Forest areas. Along with other migratory wildlife, they are an integral part of these Kisatchie areas. This has been their home, before the army acquired more and more land in many of these areas.
These are truly Wild Horses, unhandled and unbranded, moving on and off public / army controlled lands as they have done for nearly a century, and should not be subject to this type of harassment.
January 30th, 2018 there was a Preliminary Injunction hearing in Lake Charles, LA before Magistrate Judge Kathleen Kay. We are very pleased with our ability to communicate several serious concerns. Some of the key issues raised are; the Army’s lack of compliance with NEPA and NHPA, lack of proper identification and basic demographics about the horses, improper holding practices, illegal round up methods used by third party contractors, as well as the potential for our unique heritage horses to be exposed to diseases found in domestic horses and kill pens in the area. PEGA has 14 days to file a memorandum, then the Army has seven days to respond, so it could be about a month until the presiding Magistrate Judge renders an opinion. Judge Kay will rule on the following:
- rule on evidence for the PI
- rule on PI
- rule on evidence for the record, then the parties will brief merits
- Then, Judge Kay will rule on the merits of the case
February 6th, 2018 we have received several individual reports that there are very few horses seen out on the ranges, if any. Maybe they have been driven away by fear, natural migratory patterns or maybe numbers are lower than originally thought. It is very important for the public to continue to engage local and state officials regarding this matter. Please contact the following individuals and demand these horses receive protection from exploitation.