I am not generally a defender of the U.S. Forest Service. But I am compelled to answer the biased and one-sided commentary by the equine manager for the Animal Welfare Institute (Sunday Review-Journal).
I am a former resident of the area in California that was the subject of the article. First, there are approximately 21,000 acres of private and Native-American reservation lands within the national forest boundaries. Also, there are a few thousand acres more of these lands adjacent to the national forest. These lands are used for grazing and raising hay.
The horse roundup in question was a depredation gather of wild horses that were living or grazing on these private or reservation lands that were used to make a living. Many were captured on these private or reservation lands. The gathering occurred last fall.
The national forests are not conducive to habitation by wild horses due to the limited winter grazing and severe winters. Also, the Forest Service – unlike the Bureau of Land Management, which is a huge generator of horses for adoption — is not well-versed in the process of gathering wild horses and caring for them afterward. In fact, the Forest Service used BLM facilities for holding and handling the captured horses. Very few of the horses were adopted, and the Forest Service is stuck with managing and feeding them. I doubt it has the budget – like the BLM does — to maintain them for the rest of their lives.
Forest Service officials fulfilled their legal obligation to remove the horses from private lands and now are just trying to get rid of them.