LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Wild horses at Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk have been the source of controversy for years, JRTC and Fort Polk wanting them removed. Now, a professor at Texas A&M University says some of these horses could have a rare genetic history that could protect some of them from removal.
Between 400 and 500 horses roam free in and around the Fort Polk training facility, according to their spokesperson. So far in Emeritus Clinical Professor, Gus Cothran’s, testing, 20 of these horses have a connection to a colonial Spanish breed from the 1500s to 1700s.
“The horses that the Spanish brought to the new world, when they were settling and conquering, no longer exist in Spain. Or, if they do, they’re very small numbers and are extremely endangered," Cothran said.
Cothran said New Iberian breeds are said to be the finest in the world and it’s extremely rare that we have any at all in North America.
“It’s something of a surprise that there is a population like that out there in a location like that. I think it was presumed that most of those kinds of animals had already been identified and brought into domestic or human control,” Cothran said.
He said this is a part of horse diversity they have not yet seen before. With Fort Polk removing some of these horses from the area, Cothran said he hopes they try to get these animals into a conservation program.
“I would hope they make them available to the public, that would be, the people who would be willing to try to preserve those lineages," Cothran said.
In a statement from Fort Polk about the removal of what they call “trespass horses”, this is what they had to say.
“Fort Polk has completed an Environmental Assessment for the Elimination of the Trespass Horses from Fort Polk and successfully removed approximately 200 horses under the approved process. Those horses were taken by three animal welfare groups, the Humane Society of North Texas, Horses Lives Matter and Meridian Falls Ranch. A lawsuit was filed regarding the removal of the trespass horses from Fort Polk. Due to that ongoing litigation, we are unable to provide further information.”
Cothran said he hopes to test more of these horses to collect more information and analyze their connection to the colonial Spanish breed.