Joe P. Asher
The fate of a large herd of wild horses has sparked controversy after a coal company allegedly ordered the horses removed. The horses have been living wild on a piece of property in Straight Creek, known as Dingo, for decades.
President and CEO of the Harlan County Humane Society Marcella Chadwick said that Sequoia Energy has ordered the horses be moved.
“About three weeks ago an official from Sequoia Energy approached one of my officers and said that the horses on Dingo had to be moved. Whether they be given away, adopted or what have you they had to be moved,” said Chadwick. “I had not made any decisions about it yet because they had approached other people and said this and nothing had come of it.”
Chadwick said she decided after a story about the horses ran in the Enterprise on Thursday that the horses should not have to be moved.
“Those horses have been there 40 to 45 years,” said Chadwick. “I decided at that point that those horses weren’t going anywhere, that was their home. That company came into their home. We took all the necessary measures that we needed to take to try to keep them there. We hired an attorney this morning (Monday) to help us fight to keep them there.”
The Harlan County Humane Society has retained attorney Russell Alred to represent them in the matter.
“There’s not anything been filed as of yet. I’m still reviewing and investigating to see if first of all there is any legal authority for this coal company to remove the horses,” said Alred. “I’ve not been able to confirm from the coal company that they are in fact going to remove the horses.”
Alred noted that he has made several attempts to contact Sequoia Energy officials, but so far has been unsuccessful.
“There’s really not any legal action to initiate until someone actually tries to remove these horses,” said Alred. “I, along with other people, have been keeping a close eye to ensure these horses are not removed. It is my intention as the lawyer for the Harlan County Humane Society to take whatever steps within the bounds of the law to ensure that these horses are not removed. The first step is to reach out to whoever it is that is allegedly wanting to remove these horses and find out by what legal authority they would try to remove these horses.”
Chadwick noted Sequoia Energy may not have a legal right to move the horses.
“They cannot move those horses. They can’t even order those horses be moved,” said Chadwick.
Chadwick said the coal company claims the horses are hampering reclamation efforts.
“There’s been two other strip jobs there before,” said Chadwick. “Those horses were there then and there was no problem.”
According to Chadwick, the coal company has threatened to have the horses sold for slaughter if they are not removed.
“We are going to fight no matter what it takes,” said Chadwick. “We’ve got people from out of town who have sent funds in to help with the lawyer. We’ve got the Humane Society out of Louisville coming to help us with this. This is not just us small town people fighting for these horses. The people of Harlan County should be so proud to be able to stand up and say ‘we have a herd of wild horses.’ There’s nowhere else close that can say that.”
When contacted, a representative of Southern Coal Corporation in Roanoke, Va., parent company of Sequoia Energy, stated “no comment” and disconnected the call.
Reach Joe P. Asher at 606-573-4510 or email@example.com