SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — Animal rights activists are fighting to save wild horses from being captured on the U.S. Army’s Fort Polk base in Louisiana.
The activists say Texas State University is contracting with an organization that’s selling many of the horses to slaughterhouses.
Last September Texas State University was awarded almost $100,000 to help remove the horses from the base. According to the university, the animals are a threat to themselves and the soldiers who are running drills.
Texas State University Center of Archaeological Studies Director, Todd Ahlman, is leading the project. He says the school hired Thompson’s Horse Lot and Co. to capture the horses and that they are the safest and best option for the wild horses.
“They are able to respond quickly if the horses need water or feed and they are also able to go there every day and make sure the horses have water and feed,” said Ahlman.
The agreement with Thompson’s Horse Lot is to capture the horses then put them up for adoption through nonprofit groups. However, if nonprofit groups are unable to adopt the horses and members of the public don’t step up, the horses are sold at auction and likely slaughtered.
Ahlman says so far every horse captured by Thompson’s Horse Lot has found a new home.
“There is no horse slaughter happening, that’s misinformation being driven by social media,” said Ahlman. “They have all been adopted to nonprofit horse rescue groups, and what happens to these horses after they go to these nonprofit groups, we have no control over. I can tell you that none of the horses have gone to the Thompson’s and have gone that route.”
Still, advocacy groups say they need more proof. The groups say the Thompson Cattle Company posts frequently on their Facebook page with videos of horses and a caption reading “ships to slaughter” followed by a date and time.
“We’ve seen no transparency from where these horses ended up,” said Pegasus Equine Guardian Association President Amy Hanchey. “This is taxpayer money that is being used to fund felony kill buyers and I think that’s the main concern here, of course, secondary to the horse’s well-being.”
“That is a separate part of their business that has nothing to do with this contract and nothing to do with this process,” said Ahlman.
Hanchey’s group has filed a lawsuit against Fort Polk, claiming the U.S. Army’s plan to eliminate herds of horses violates the National Environmental Policy Act and the National Historic Preservation Act.
A spokesman for Fort Polk says 170 horses have been successfully removed from the base. He says all horses have been taken by three animal welfare groups: the Humane Society of North Texas, Horses Lives Matter and Meridian Falls Ranch. In a statement sent to KXAN, the base acknowledged the pending lawsuit and said due to ongoing litigation they could provide no further information.