Friends of Animals has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., against the U.S. Forest Service (FS) because of its plan to sell wild horses from public lands in California without limitations.

FS authorized the removal of more than 1,000 wild horses from an area known as Devil’s Garden Plateau Wild Horse Territory (WHT) despite not fulfilling a court ordered environmental assessment. The agency plans to allow buyers to purchase up to 36 horses for as little as a dollar each, providing incentive for kill buyers to make an easy profit by selling them to slaughterhouses all over the world. 

“Since 2009, Congress has expressly denied the largest federal land manager of wild horses, the Bureau of Land Management, the use of funds to destroy horses in response to public concern over the practice. Moreover, California passed a law prohibiting the sale of wild horses for human consumption or to export them for that purpose,” said Michael Harris, director of Friends of Animals Wildlife Law Program. “USFS is violating state and federal laws.”

In the past, the Forest Service has followed the U.S. Dept. of Interior’s policy prohibiting the sale of wild horses to slaughter, but the Trump administration is changing that policy. The Forest Service’s reversal of prior practice and its decision to embark on a program that may lead to Devil Garden Plateau’s wild horses being sent to slaughter requires careful review under the National Environmental Protection Act, the lawsuit states.

“It’s disgraceful that Forest Service thinks it’s above the law by blatantly changing its policy without informing the public and against the will of the public,” added Harris.