Tonto National Forest, Mesa, Ariz. (May 28th, 2018) — The Salt River Wild Horse Management Group (SRWHMG) announces today that it has been awarded a contract with the State of Arizona to officially manage the Salt River wild horses in the Tonto National Forest.
The group was notified that the Arizona Department of Agriculture (AZDA) had chosen the group’s management proposal, which was submitted as part of a competitive bid process managed by the State Procurement Office.
Our goal is and always has been freedom, protection and humane management of this treasured historic and recreational resource.
The group will hold a press conference at its property on the Beeline Highway on Tuesday, May 29th at 12 noon. President of the group, Simone Netherlands, will discuss the contract award and future management plans, and will demonstrate how to dart a wild horse with the humane birth control vaccine, PZP.
“The Salt River wild horses are a living piece of our Arizona history, a remnant of our pioneering American spirit,” said Simone Netherlands, President of the SRWHMG. “This is the culmination of all of our hard work and we are ecstatic to finally begin to implement humane management solutions for this herd, to ensure that not one Salt River wild horse ever has to be rounded up from the Salt River.”
“We look forward to continuing our successful public/private partnership with federal, state and local officials to protect the Salt River wild horses a well as the safety of public who loves to watch them,” Netherlands continued, promising management of the horses by and for the public.
The SRWHMG, with its 100 volunteers, monitors the horses on a daily basis and will implement a management program with the following components: a birth control program to humanely reduce population growth in the Salt River wild horse herd; emergency feeding and diversionary watering as needed; maintenance of fences and gates and rescue and sanctuary of injured wild horses when needed.
Recently, at the group’s request, the Maricopa County Department of Transportation began to make safety improvements on Bush Highway to reduce the chances of horse-vehicle collisions.
The contract was awarded pursuant to state legislation (HB 2340), passed in 2016, which required the AZDA to enter into an MOU with the Forest Service and authorizes the AZDA in turn, to contract with a non-profit organization for the humane management of the horses.
“We are grateful to Representative Kelly Townsend and the Arizona legislature, which overwhelmingly passed legislation to protect the Salt River horses, and to Governor Doug Ducey for his steadfast support for keeping this treasured herd wild and free in their habitat on the lower Salt River,” Netherlands concluded. “We’d also like to thank our national coalition partner, the American Wild Horse Campaign, which has been with us every step of the way in this fight to protect the Salt River wild horses.”
It was just three years ago, in August 2015, that the Forest Service published a notice of its intent to impound and dispose of the entire herd. The SRWHMG mobilized a massive public outcry, which stopped the Forest Service from rounding up the horses and sending them to slaughter auctions. (please see news pieces from back then, from August 5th and 6th 2015 of our protests) The SRWHMG sued the federal government, held rallies and protests, negotiated for their freedom, and eventually worked to pass legislation, which is today protecting the herd.