California Attorney General Calls for US Forest Service to Reverse Decision to Sell Wild Horses for Possible Human Consumption

Press release from the California Attorney General:

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, in a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Chief of the U.S. Forest Service Vicki Christiansen, today urged the Secretary and the Chief to reverse their decision allowing the U.S. Forest Service (Forest Service) to offer California’s wild horses for sale without restriction. California law prohibits the possession or sale of horses with the intent of using them for human consumption. Additionally, federal law prohibits the Department of the Interior, which manages most of the country’s wild horses, from selling horses to be used in commercial products. The Forest Service has traditionally followed the practice of the Department of the Interior and has historically respected California’s law. However, the Forest Service is now changing its policy, stating that some of the horses under its management may be put up for unconditional sale after 90 days.

“To slaughter for commercial consumption mustangs that have roamed California for over a century is not only atrocious, but unlawful,” said Attorney General Xavier Becerra. “These majestic animals captivate the imagination and symbolize the rugged independence of the American West. We urge the federal government to treat the Modoc National Forest and its wildlife with the respect that it is due by protecting these beautiful wild horses from the commercial slaughterhouse.”

In California, wild horses roam public lands throughout the state, including the Devil’s Garden Plateau Wild Horse Territory, an area of more than 250,000 acres in Modoc National Forest. Occasional roundups of wild horses are a typical part of wildlife and land management. The Forest Service initiated the current wild horse roundup in October to reduce the horse populations in Modoc National Forest. In the roundup, the U.S. Forest Service will gather 1,000 protected wild horses. Attorney General Becerra cautions in the letter that selling the horses to a buyer planning to use the animals for human consumption is a felony under California law with a potential penalty of up to three years in prison.

Under management by the Forest Service, the auction of protected horses will be offered in two phases: in the first phase of sales, the Forest Service will prioritize the adoption of wild horses by members of the public who are able to care for them, and will impose conditions to require buyers follow California law. However, after January 10, 2019, the Forest Service will offer the remaining horses for sale unconditionally, including without the conditions imposed by California law. In the letter, the Attorney General warns Secretary Perdue that by reversing the Department’s policy and allowing sales without restrictions, the Forest Service and buyers risk violating California law.

A copy of the letter is attached to the electronic version of this press release at



  • What hell are these people thinking about wanting to eat a horse.

  • OH MY!! That is horrible!! Those Horses deserve a chance in life also, All God’s creatures do, even Humans!!!

  • I can’t believe I’m siding with a Calif official, but here I are. Kudos to you good (atm?) sir! Keep up the good work!

    In another western state a long time ago, the ‘officials’ confiscated the rancher’s prize breeding stock and demanded money to have them returned. The ranchers told them to eff off. The ‘officials’ turned the horses lose and they soon multiplied into a new ‘official made’ crisis called over grazing. They offered a ‘new’ solution, of selling them to slaughter houses. Naturally, the people who were wise to their corruption fought them like hell and that state now has restrictions too. It’s good to see that other states aren’t gullible either.

  • isn’t that what stalin did ?

  • If they aren’t sold without restrictions, dog food or human food, they will just end up in kill pens anyway. You want them piled up in a ravine or have them go to some use? Because I’m not hearing anyone offering to buy the hay to keep them alive after they have overgrazed these areas to the point of starvation.

  • HumboldtBiologist

    I just don’t understand why its ok to eat one animal and not another?

  • Horses, with their large mass bodies up on long legs and tendency to colic, do not ship well. And since horse slaughter is not allowed in the US, shipping relatively long distances with poor care is what happens to horses destined for slaughter. It is a bad alternative to allowing slaughter near where they are caught.

  • Is it better to: eat some horses, cull the poulation and waste the meat, or let some starve to death?

    Horses are an invasive species. Don’t get me wrong, I have horses, mustangs even, but herd management is a reasonable action by humans. I don’t understand why we ar okay with eating a cow and not a horse unless it has something to do with the whole cloven hoof thing.

  • Makes me wonder how big of a slab of bacon comes off one of those things!

  • I guess next year’s photos of disgusting grows on park land will also include a thousand horse bones. Bleh

  • Alvin:
    I wish I had a horse
    A bright and shiny horse
    A horse I could call my own

    I would treat him so nice
    Brush him each day
    For his dinner he’d get tons of hay!

  • If wishes were horses, we’d all be eating steak!

  • no more free range cattle on public lands!

    if they are so concerned with overgrazing then they should stop all this free range cattle bs.. this really is their main concern.. keeping the ranchers happy and keeping the money rolling in.. they dont want the horses competing with the cattle

  • It is interesting to see how little the AG understands about wildlife — the horses have seriously overgrazed the area because of their ability to double their population every 5 years and the ongoing drought in that region. Which is harming all of the truly native wildlife on the range. If California objects to sale without restrictions they are welcome to purchase them. I understand the FS is selling them cheap.

    • Well he’s a left winger. He’s obviously never heard of the Kaibab story. Thinning out the herd will benefit the remaining animals and the arid sensitive environment of the devil’s garden. I have been there. It won’t support many horses. Probably need over twenty acres per animal. Many cultures eat horse meat. Indeed, pioneer explorers and native Americans did so regularly when it became necessary.

      • More than a few countries in Europe still do it every day, some consider its meat a delicacy. But with horse people it’s a emotional response not one based in logic.

        • Mikes right, it’s just a cultural thing with us. I had a horse steak in Iceland some years back and it was delish. They make all the hot dogs there from horse as well. I get it, I have a weird revulsion to the idea because I was raised with horses, but I was also raised around cows and I eat them almost daily.. So I get the revulsion, but it is only cultural so don’t be so dramatic. It’s just meat (the other, other red meat!)

  • I guess this falls in line with the phrase “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse.”

  • I remember hearing a story of a local guy who had to put his horse down. He decided to butcher it with a local friend. The friend received part of the meat for helping. He proceeded to make a stew very similar to Venison stew. He brought it as a dish to share at a local potluck party. Folks were really enjoying that stew like it was one of the best dishes that evening. Then one lady asked about how it was made. The local man candidly explained the source of the meat for his stew. Many guests were irate and offended. The irony of hypocrisy.

  • If the horses are overpopulating, why can’t they neuter them when they round them up? Or at least the unadopted horses.

    • That would take a management mentality.
      Thinning the trees so that they grow strong and straight is also good management.
      Clearing the brush while thinning the trees allows the sunshine to make grass that feeds the wildlife. That’s called managing the resources.
      We don’t do that in Calif. In Calif we hug our crooked scraggly trees and kill the wildlife.

      • Neutering a population of huge, wild animals takes a whole lot more specialised labor and manhours than culling them. Also, we absolutely do tons of prescribed burns to deal with brush in Ca. I’m afraid you don’t know what you’re talking about.

        I wouldn’t mind seeing all the wild horses and pigs wiped out so that native species can move in to replace them. I’ll volunteer to help eat them, too.

    • Spaying a mare is a serious operation needing follow up and care. Altering a male is less serious but missing even a few males means that virtually all the females in the area will be pregnant next year. Or one escaped domestic stallion and that would happen too. And these are 800 to 1000 pound animals who can casually kill with a kick. It is not easy. Even with domestic horses used to being handled.

      Unless there is a chemical solution (which they tried with birth control for the mares,) that is not an option.

  • Let’s see Cy states that horses double their herds every 5 years… It takes approximately 11 months for a horse to give birth to a foal. And a horse vary rarely has more then 1 foal at a time. That’s 1 baby a year. A cow can have a calf in the spring and be bred while still nursing the calf so that she gives birth to at lest 1 if not 2 calves that fall.
    Let’s see how fast will 100 head of cattle double up. Now if the land that was set aside for the wild horses and donkeys was left to them instead of leased out for graze permits. And some of the Studs were gelded, think hurd management. Just maybe there wouldn’t be as much of an over grazing problem. After all if they didn’t have to compete with the cattle for the lands that were left to them there would be more feed for them. As horse owners, castration is commonly used to manage herd numbers already and has been very effective.

    • ahh but the horses serve nothing and as stated above they are not natural for this area. so like everything else we must abate. fine ca 10k a day per horse and demand restoration.

      • No benefit? If it weren’t for the animals, WW1, for one, would never have been won.
        We owe them our everything.
        It’s too bad the local community colleges don’t offer horse gentling, horse training, horse care, vocational classes. With our taxes constantly on the increase, horses might be our only form of transportation by the year 2030.

        • It’s hard to argue that anything was “won” in WW1. It was a war of attrition and it was those that lost the least (or had more to sacrifice) came out on top…

  • Thin out the scrub brush and crooked trees, make room for sunshine and grass to feed the wildlife. Catch and neuter the conformationally weak. Problem solved.
    A little more info.

    • A friend had a stud colt escape into a 100 acre field with a 2 year old mare. A half dozen eager cowboys could not catch the romantic couple and the mare had a lovely foal the next year.
      Now picture the same scenario over 1,000,000 acres. Doing some is easy to say but hard in practice.

      • 100 acre field? Then they weren’t cowboys I can tell you that.

        • Well I only ever met one person who was as cowboy as they said they were. Come to think on it, that man never said he was. He just was. I guess those that say they are usually aren’t.

      • The ‘lovely foal’ is the goal of any good horse management program, regardless if accidental or planned. Culling out the poorly formed will help to achieve ‘lovely’ accidents instead of culls.

  • Wouldn’t “feral horses” be more accurate than “wild horses”?

  • Om fucking God! What the fuck is wrong with people today! Smoken way to much pot! Sick fuckers! I will stop eating before I eat horse! JUST SICK,! I AM ASHAMED TO LIVE IN CALIFORNIA,whats next How about we start eating our cats & dogs next ,HOW ABOUT OUR BABYS! This is sick! Fucking no fucking way!

    • Just to make sure you’re clear. California is the one saying don’t eat horse. The Federal government is saying if they don’t sell for other uses first, then they can be sold for food.

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