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.
Recently, these wild horses were brought into the limelight as our group, our volunteers and our supporters worked hard to prevent the roundup and destruction of this historic herd.
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) alerted the press and the public to the imminent anihalation of the herd. We held rallies and we filed a lawsuit, we lobbied our legislators and we negotiated with the Forest Service- it made the local news daily.
What happened next was nothing short of an unprecedented public outrage – the people of Arizona and its politicians gave these iconic wild horses their voice. Thousands calls, letters and emails streamed into the Forest Service office, not only from the public but from the Arizona delegation as well. More than 100 news pieces can be found when you search “Salt River Wild Horse Management Group” , including pieces on CNN, the New York Times, USA Today, the Washington Times and our very supportive local stations NBC, ABC, FOX and CBS.
During one of our negotiations the Forest Service committed to a 120-day temporary delay of the roundup. We then dropped our lawsuit without prejudice so that we could pick it up again should the wrong decisions be made. Under continued pressure, 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 listened.
Then through continued work with legislators a bill was born and amended, HB2340, a bill that establishes that the horses are not stray livestock, makes harrassing them illegal and codifies their humane management between authorities and a private party. After 5 months of contacting every legislator in Arizona, the bill passed the house, then the senate almost unanimously and then the house again and was signed by Governor Doug Ducey, who had said from the beginning that if the Forest Service was not going to protect the horses,then the State would step in and do it.
We are not there yet and we need your continued support in order for the State or the Feds not to make the wrong decisions for our wild ones. We are working hard on the process to codify their humane management through MOU’s with the authorities.
It is our goal to work for the good of the Tonto National Forest, its inhabitants and its visitors every day and we will work with anyone who shares those same goals. Our volunteers pick up bags of garbage from the riverbanks, buckets of nails and many pounds of old down barbed wire daily. We work for improved public and horse safety and are fixing many miles of fencing on Bush Highway.
This is about keeping just 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 we are incredibly grateful that the public joined us in making it very clear, that we would not stand for it. We had amazing turnouts for all of our events, protests and rallies and we want you to know that YOUR voice made a difference. But the horses are not completely out of the woods yet, we now need your help more than ever!
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 achieve these MOU’s for humane management, pay our legal bills, pay for an Environmental Assessment and pay for the vet bills for our rescued Salt River wild foals.
Gratefully, the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group.
A hiker called the SRWHMG emergency number. Our field team went out and found little Pacman allone and terribly injured. We rescued him and got him to the equine hospital. A donation of any size will help Pacman! Thank you!