One of 290 wild horses captured during last fall’s Devils Garden Plateau Wild Horse Territory helicopter roundup conducted by the U.S. Forest Service last year. RTF file photo by Steve Paige.


In an unusual step, the U.S. Forest Service will release 53 mares captured during last year’s Devil’s Garden Plateau Wild Horse Territory and passed over for adoption onto their home range.

The mares, treated with a fertility control vaccine, are set to be released on Oct. 3 at Emigrant Springs, north of Alturas, California, according to a press release. They were among 290 wild horses captured in a helicopter roundup that ended in October 2016.

The Forest Service is taking an uncharacteristic approach by releasing mares after offering them for adoption. When the Bureau of Land Management captures wild horses, it typically released any mares treated with fertility control at the end of the roundup, while all other captured wild horses put up for adoption. Those passed over are then transported to off-range corrals or pastures, not released back onto the home range.

Some of the wild horses that were captured last year at Devil’s Garden, including mare-foal pairs and weanlings, remain available for adoption or sale with restrictions at the BLM’s Litchfield (California) Corrals. More information is available by calling (530) 254-6575.

Those who wish to view the release of the mares should meet forest personnel at forest headquarters, 225 W. Eighth Street in Alturas, at 9 a.m. and/or 2 p.m. and follow them to the release site.

Management of wild horses at Devil’s Garden, home of California’s largest remaining wild horse heard, has let to both litigation and RTF action on behalf of the herd during last year’s roundup.

In August of this year, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia overturned a decision by the Forest Service to cut by 23,000 acres the area available to wild horses, in a victory RTF shared with other advocates. After years of managing the area for wild horses and scores of public meetings, the agency in 2013 claimed that its use for wild horses had been an administrative mistake.

During the roundup in 2016, a contractor crammed 52 stallions into a single temporary holding pen and the contractor’s helicopter skid nearly struck galloping wild horses. Because RTF had a humane witness documenting the roundup, RTF was able to successfully work to have the stallions released and have the helicopter pull back on subsequent days.


Federal court orders restoration of 23,000 acres for California wild horses, Aug. 6, 2017

Press release: Court finds U.S. Forest Service illegally cut habitat for California wild horse, Aug. 4, 2017

Wild horse advocates, Forest Service face off over Devil’s Garden, Jan. 12, 2017

Wild horses get favorable hearing in battle with California ranchers, Jan. 11, 2017

Judges corral arguments over wild horse protections in remote California county, Jan. 6, 2017

Jan. 12 meeting set on Devil’s Garden, Calif., wild horse plan, Dec. 7, 2016

Devil’s Garden update: California wild horses ready for adoption, Nov. 29, 2016

Devil’s Garden Days Six & Seven: Roundup ends with 290 California wild horses captured, Oct. 2, 2016


Click here to donate to the Wild Horse Defense Fund, which fuels RTF’s advocacy, litigation and roundup monitoring efforts