Historic Bill to Protect Salt River Wild Horses
signed by Governor Doug Ducey
Phoenix, AZ (May 11th, 2016). . . .HB 2340, the bill to protect the famed Salt River wild horses in the Tonto National Forest cleared its last hurdle in the Arizona legislature on May 5th with a 53-3 vote in the House of Representatives and was signed on May 11th by Governor Doug Ducey! While SRWHMG members and supporters celebrated the historic event right outside of the AZ Capitol waving the American, Arizonian and SRWHMG flags from the backs of horses, their president Simone Netherlands had a chance to witness the important event and thank him properly for his support.
The Governor said in a statement; “The Salt River horses are beautiful, majestic and a treasure to our state. Since last summer, we have worked to protect them and their ability to roam free,” He thanked the sponsor of the bill Rep. Kelly Townsend and the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group for all the hard work.
The Salt River Horse Protection bill clarifies that the horses are not stray livestock and sets the stage for preserving them for future generations.
But the horses are not completely out of the woods just yet. The bill sets forth that MOU’s need to be signed before December 2017 to codify their management. The bill clearly states that that should be for humane purposes only. This is the biggest step that has ever been taken to protect wild horses who were not originally included in the 1971 wild free roaming horses and burros Act.
“This is a historic day for us and for the Salt River wild horses, but especially for the public, that would not stand for the removal and disposal of this herd that is so historically and economically significant to the State of Arizona, ” said Simone Netherlands in a press conference right after the signing of the bill. “We are so proud of our legislators and our governor, for listening to the voice of the people and standing firm for protection of these irreplaceable Arizona treasures, and we are eternally grateful to rep. Kelly Townsend for sponsoring the bill.”
“Citizens across Arizona and the United States are cheering this victory for the cherished Salt River wild horses,” said Suzanne Roy, Director of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, a national coalition. “We are pleased to have worked alongside our coalition partner, the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group, to ensure passage of this important bill to save the Salt River wild horses. This is a great day for wild horses in Arizona!”
The latest rescue of a Salt River wild horse foal on Sunday night by the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group field team is a great example of humane, community-based wild horse management in action. The foal, Pacman, had injured legs (possibly caused by barbed wire) and subsequently developed a severe infection. He is currently receiving intensive treatment at a veterinary hospital.
The Salt River Wild Horse Management Group is an Arizona non-profit organization established to protect, monitor and scientifically study the Salt River Wild Horses. The SRWHMG has been spearheading the effort to secure lasting protections for this iconic and beloved wild horse herd in the Tonto National Forest.
The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC) is dedicated to defending America’s wild horses and burros to protect their freedom, preserve their habitat, and promote humane standards of treatment. AWHPC’s mission is endorsed by a coalition of more than 60 horse advocacy, public interest, and conservation organizations.
According to historic newspaper articles, once, more than 500,000 wild horses roamed in Arizona, today, fewer than 500 remain in our entire state — among them, the iconic and beloved Salt River wild horses. These majestic creatures are the pride of the community, a favorite subject of photographers and the icon of the wild, free spirit of Arizona and the American West.
The Salt River Wild Horse Management Group (SRWHMG) keeps track of these wild horses daily and keeps a record on each one of them. We fight for their permanent protection on the river where they have lived in harmony with all other species and their ecosystem for centuries.
In response to the Forest Service’s notice to round up, impound and remove the Salt River wild horses in July of 2015, the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group (SRWHMG) sounded the alarm, alerting the press and the public to the imminent destruction of the herd. We held rallies and we filed an injunction and a lawsuit against the Forest Service. We lobbied our legislators and we negotiated with the Forest Service- it made the local news daily.
Our petition has almost 300,000 signatures of people who want to see the Salt River wild horses preserved and protected on the river. It was nothing short of an unprecedented public outrage – the people of Arizona and its politicians gave these iconic wild horses a voice. More than 100 news pieces can be found when you search “Salt River Wild Horses” , including pieces on CNN, the New York Times, USA Today, the Washington Times and ofcourse NBC, ABC, FOX and CBS.
As a result of the continued public pressure and negotiations, the Forest Service at first committed to a 120-day temporary delay of the roundup and we dropped our lawsuit without prejudice. Then, just before Christmas of 2015, the Forest Service agreed to a total rescindment of the impound notice. We are grateful for the fact that the Forest Service heard the public outcry and that they eventually listened.
It is our goal to work for the good of the Tonto National Forest every day, which has millions of visitors annually. Our volunteers pick up bags of garbage from the riverbanks, buckets of nails and many pounds of old down barbed wire daily. We work together with all local authorities like MCSO, DPS, ADOT and MCDOT towards improved public and horse safety and we are fixing many miles of fencing on Bush Highway.
This is about keeping a small piece of wild for future generations to come, but it is also about more than that. It is about who we are as Americans, and what we stand for – and what we don’t.
These lands belong to all of the public of America and it is overwhelmingly clear what the public wants. YOUR voice makes a difference, we still need your help!
We are not funded by anyone but you, the public. Your donation helps the Salt River wild horses directly, no one in the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group gets paid; not even the president. By donating you will help us purchase fencing materials, fund our education campaigns, help us pay our legal bills, pay for an Environmental Assessment and pay for the rescue vet bills for our rescued Salt River wild foals.
This is the orginal petition you can still sign it asking that the Forest Service protect the Salt River wild horses permanently in their historic home.
A hiker called the SRWHMG emergency number and we went out immediately to find little Pacman allone and terribly injured. We rescued Pacman and got him to the equine hospital. Please help us to be able to afford to save little Pacman’s life. A donation of any size will help Pacman! Thank you!