SRWHMG Mission: Ensure Their Protection and Humane Management

The Salt River wild horses are the historic and majestic creatures roaming the lower Salt River in the Tonto National Forest in Arizona. They 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.

These wild horses were brought into the limelight during the epic battle  for their protection; the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group rounded up large herds of people who gave them a voice;  we stampeded congress and we worked toward positive solutions with Federal and State governments. It worked; while almost gone forever, today the Salt River wild horses are protected pursuant to Arizona Revised Statute 3-1491 (aka the Salt River Horse Act)  We are currently under contract to manage this herd humanely under the AZ Department of Agriculture (AZDA), this partnership is rare and very succesful, however we have to warn that the battle for their protection is not yet over. Please see below press release.

For Immediate Release

Contact: Simone Netherlands, 928-925-7212





Mesa, AZ (January 12, 2020)…. The Salt River Wild Horse Management Group (SRWHMG) today reacted to news that the Tonto National Forest intends to begin construction of a nearly four-mile, metal fence along the banks of the lower Salt River, warning that the fence will have devastating impacts to protected wild horses as well as to Forest visitors.

The management group urged the Forest Service to drop plans to construct the fence and criticized its failure to disclose and analyze the boundary fence’s many serious impacts, which include blocking wild horses from accessing their critical river and historic habitats on both sides of the river, creating a risk of starvation and dehydration. The fence will also harm tubers and kayakers by forcing them to pass through a gate in the fence across the river, raising public safety and aesthetic concerns.

“We are alarmed that the Forest Service did not consider the fence’s negative impacts to the Salt River wild horses, who are protected under state law, and to the thousands of kayakers, tubers, hikers and wildlife viewers, who enjoy this beautiful area of the Tonto National Forest,” said Simone Netherlands, President of the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group. “We call on the Forest Service to suspend construction immediately and explore alternatives.”

The group is also concerned about Forest Service fencing along Bush Hwy. While SRWHMG shares the goal of keeping horses out of the roadway, the current fencing, once closed, will cut off horses from the entire south side of Bush Hwy, almost half of their historic habitat. This will result in a severe concentration of horses exactly where the most people are, putting people and horses on a course to collision, making future wild horse removals highly likely. SRWHMG has advocated for a wildlife overpass over Bush Hwy as a solution, but this is NOT currently included in the fencing plan.

“We believe that cutting the Salt River wild horses off of half of their historic habitat and building fences to keep them away from the river is not consistent with the state law that protects the Salt River wild horses, which mandates that they be protected ‘where they have historically lived,’” Netherlands concluded.

Today, SRWHMG, with its national coalition partner the American Wild Horse Campaign, are  launching a Week of Action to Save the #SaltRiverHorses to protest the fence and weigh in on the Arizona Department of Agriculture’s pending decision on a permanent management plan for the horses (see below).

Birth control darts used on Salt River horses

Volunteers from the Salt River Wild Horse Management group are stepping up with a plan to preserve the wild horses along the Lower Salt River in the East Valley. Today, certified members of the group used darts to administer mares with a birth control vaccine.

Managing Wild Horses Humanely

Managing wild horses has many different aspects, from making improvements to their habitat, rescuing injured wild horses, to humane birth control; basically the field work never ends.  With our large volunteer force we monitor the horses daily, help them cross the roads when necessary and we are available for emergencies 24/7.

The Salt River Wild Horse Management Group (SRWHMG) continues to perform the scope of work under contract with the State, with excellence, integrity and humanity for all of the horses in the Salt River Herd, as well as what we consider SRPMIC and FMYN (reservation) horses when they are present on the TNF.

Here’s where we are:

  • A successful program that enjoys broad public support.
  • An exemplary fertility control program that’s a first of its kind because of the full documentation of the herd.
  • A feed program that has sustained the entire herd in good condition during the worst natural conditions, for the second year in a row.
  • The largest volunteer program in the Forest. We also cleans up tons of trash, old barbed wire and increase public safety.
  • All of this 100% paid for by the public at no cost to the State or Federal Government.

Our non profit organization is a public asset,  and the Salt River wild horses are an economic boon and public treasure for the State of Arizona.  

The components of our humane management plan are:

  • Monitoring the health of the herd and keeping records of each individual as well as each band in it.
  • A humane fertility control program to stabilize the population.
  • Long term and short term emergency solutions; such as a feed program; diversionary feeding; returning horses that wonder outside of the habitat.
  • Installation and maintenance of fences and gates to keep wild horses safe from roadways.
  • Work with MCDOT to implement safety features and reduce horse-vehicle collisions.
  • Capture and rescue of fatally injured wild horses that would otherwise die a cruel death.
  • Give care and sanctuary to the rescued Salt River wild horses at our facilities.
What is Humane Birth Control and Why is it Important?

We use PZP (Porcine Zona Pelucida) immuno-contraception. It is darted in the field without capturing wild horses. It is the only acceptable form of birth control for wild horses, as it does not harm nor influence their hormones and therefore does not harm or influence their reproductive behaviors and herd dynamics. Any other form of birth control, such as geldings or overyectomies, are cruel, expensive, and will influence their hormones, which is why we do not support those forms of birth control for wild horses.

Birth control is important, because the herd is fenced in by civilization on all sides and their resources are limited; therefore they cannot grow exponentially. The PZP program will give the older mares a break from having babies and give the younger mares more time to mature before having a foal. All mares will still be given a chance to contribute their DNA to the herd in later phases of the program. The goal of this program is for each horse born in the wild, to be able to live out its life in the wild.

This first year of the program we have successfully and safely darted almost all of the mares in the herd. It did not have any effect any of the 2019 foals, who were already in the making when the program started.  We will see the effects of our birth control program in 2020.

Through this fertility control program, we can stabilize the population humanely and therefor we hope to prevent any future plans for removal. We want to thank our coalition partner the American Wild Horse Campaign for the financial support for this program.

PLEASE Join us in this historic movement to ensure that these beautiful wild horses remain wild and free and managed humanely.

Giving Care and Sanctuary:

Wild horses are very good at healing and at taking care of themselves in the wild, they have obviously done this for hundreds of years without human help; however nature can be very cruel sometimes and when there is unnecessary suffering and we can do something about it, we will. Most of the time, the  rescues are necesary due to human influences, such as barbed wire, cattle guards, traffic or accidental human interference. Once we rescue a suffering wild horse we are committed to providing that horse sanctuary and a quality life. But we cannot do this without you. Please consider becoming a sponsor for one of our wonderful rescued Salt River wild horses.

Many Ways to Help!

YOU can make a difference!

All of the SRWHMG non-profit programs are dedicated to safeguarding wild horse habitat and using humane standards of treatment.  Every dollar of your tax deductible donation will go towards the horses directly. To donate  click here.  For checks, our mailing address is: SRWHMG, 4610 N. 68th street #477, Scottsdale, AZ 85251. You donation saves lives. Thank you.

You can also connect with us through our social media pages;  follow srwhmg on facebook  follow srwhmg on twitter  

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Background: When the impound notice for their removal was posted, in 2015, we knew that it would take an unprecedented public outrage to prevent this disastrous fate. We gave it our all; we alerted the media, we held rallies and we filed an injunction in federal court. What happened next was amazing, it was the unprecedented public outrage we needed, and then some- the people of Arizona and its politicians gave these iconic wild horses a voice. Eventually, the Forest Service agreed to rescind the impound notice. Together, we changed the course of history for the Salt River wild horses, who now have a legal right to live on the Salt River in Arizona and are protected under State law. Currently we are under contract with the AZDA to manage them humanely. 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 ABC15, FOX10, CBS5/3tv and 12News. It is important to always remember that the public wants to see these wild horses remain in their historic habitat and wants to see them treated humanely.

more saved


On the top of a steep mountain, three month old Mori stood all alone, disoriented and blinded with a broken skull. We rescued her on Nov 14th 2017. Her prognosis was bleak..

about salt river wild horse management group


The Salt River Wild Horse Management Group (SRWHMG) is an Arizona non-profit organization 501(c)3, dedicated to monitor, study and protect the Salt River wild horses, who reside in the Tonto National Forest, Arizona…

volunteer to rescue horses


There are so many jobs to do, from monitoring horses on the river, to fixing fences to keep horses off the roads, to organizing and fundraising. We have sales booths and events and also there is lots of mucking to do at our Facility!