Devil's Garden Plateau Wild Horse Territory


Shows four identicle, large wild horsesThe Devil's Garden Plateau Wild Horse Territory is well known across the US for the wild horses it produces. Historically, horses have run on the Devil’s Garden Plateau for more than 140 years. Many of the early horses escaped from settlers or were released when their usefulness as domestic animals ended. In later years, like many areas throughout the west, local area ranchers released their domestic horses out to graze, and then gathered them as they were needed. Not all were ever captured.

With the passage of the 1971 Wild Horse and Burro Act (PL 92-195), private horse roundups ended. In 1974, as an initial step toward management, the Forest Service inventoried the Devil’s Garden Wild Horse population for the first time.

The Devil's Garden Plateau Wild Horse Territory Management Plan, completed in 2013, set an Appropriate Management Level (AML) of a maximum of 402 total horses.

The Forest Service and Modoc National Forest are proud to manage these wild horses and the land on which they rely. It is one more reason for people to connect with and care about their national forest. 

Devil's Garden Plateau Wild Horse Territory Access Opportunities map and information

Data collection

shows a white mare and her whiter foalIn February 2016, Modoc National Forest personnel completed a “Double Count” aerial survey of the wild horse population in and around the Devil’s Garden Plateau Wild Horse Territory. The results of the survey showed the wild horse population exceeds the AML of 206-402 adult wild horses.

Data collected is compared using statistical modeling to estimate sighting rates for observers during the survey. Using this method, the wild horse population was estimated to be 2,246 adult horses. This means wild horse population size nearly doubled since February 2013 when the last inventory was completed.

At this time, more than 3,000 wild horses occupy an area more than twice the size of the territory designated for their use by the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act.

Recovery of ecological conditions

Removal of some wild horses as prescribed in the Wild Horse Territory Management Plan will allow recovery of range and riparian ecological conditions, as well as reduce damage to fences and competition among wild horses and other uses.

Once gathered, wild horses will be transported to short-term holding where they will be fed, watered and humanely cared for until they are adopted or otherwise placed in private care with qualified individuals or groups who will provide the animals with good homes. Providing homes for horses gathered from private and tribal lands in 2016 contributed significantly to the health of the herd and the range supporting them.

In the fall of 2016, the Modoc National Forest conducted the first wild horse gather in more than ten years from the Devil’s Garden Plateau Wild Horse Territory. Two hundred and twenty one horses were sent to the BLM Litchfield holding facility from tribal and private lands near the territory. Since then efforts to adopt or place these horses have met with huge success, both in adoption numbers and formation of partnerships.

Smokey is thinking about adoptingThe Modoc Mustang Training Program developed by volunteers, partners and employees in the spring of 2017 has led to 55 adoptions. Approximately 40 additional horses were transferred to another Forest Service facility for training and adoption. Seven horses went to an inmate training program in Arizona.

The remaining sum of wild horses were placed from Bureau of Land Management adoption facilities using their resources and expertise, primarily from the Litchfield facility.

These adoptions and/or placements significantly surpasses the national average for wild horse adoption.

“It is a great thing to see the passion of these folks and their willingness to go above and beyond on a daily basis to do the right thing for the land and the horses,” said District Ranger Greg Moon. “Because of the hard work of volunteers, Modoc County, BLM, the Fort Bidwell Indian Community Council and BIA, the adoption promotion effort has been more successful than anyone thought possible.”

Please call 530-254-6575 or follow the links below to learn more about how you can provide a home for wild horses.

‚ÄčAdopt a Devil's Garden horse today

To learn more about how to become part of the  Modoc Mustangs Training Program or help provide homes for these unique horses like Tessa did for Tuffy, please contact The volunteer-run Devil's Garden Wild Horses Facebook page is well worth a visit to learn about adoption or if you just love horses.

Visit the BLM website to learn more about qualifications for adoption and to find the adoption schedule.

Find the horse you want to adopt today at