Annihilation of the Salt River wild horses temporarily halted, but removal still pending
Historic Herd Still In Danger of Removal by The US Forest Service
On July 31, 2015, the U.S. Forest Service posted its notice of intent to roundup and impound the publicly-cherished Salt River wild horses. It states: “all unauthorized livestock found upon National Forest System lands, will be impounded by the United States Forest Service on or after 8/07/15. … livestock will be offered for sale at public auction. Livestock not sold at public sale may be sold at private sale or condemned and destroyed, or otherwise disposed of.”
In response, we, the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group, alerted the press and public to the imminent destruction of this important herd by distributing our press release far and wide that same evening. We took the local media and press to meet the wild horses, who, with their peaceful demeanor and grace, did a great job advocating for themselves. By August 4, all of the media affiliates were present at our press conference and rally. The rally was attended by hundreds of Arizonans, braving the 112-degree heat and chanting “wild and free, leave our horses be.” It was broadcast live on ABC15.
What happened next was truly unprecedented. The sudden notice of removal was met with international media attention and bipartisan political support for keeping and preserving the Salt River wild horses in their current habitat.
The Salt River Wild Horse Management Group also filed a lawsuit to stop the removal. Under continued public pressure and through negotiations with the Forest Service in lieu of the lawsuit, the Forest Service committed to a temporary delay of the roundup for 120 days, plus an extra 30-day notice of a roundup. The agreement was made public a few days later.
We are grateful that Forest Supervisor Neil Bosworth has afforded this temporary stay of execution to give time for discussions between all interested parties and the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group.
The goal of the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group is to work with all stakeholders and continue to work with the Forest Service to create and implement lasting protections for these horses in their habitat. We offer our many volunteers, our expertise and our scientific documentation for a public-private partnership to create win-win solutions for the Forest Service, the community, the horses and the environment.
Although public opinion is overwhelmingly for the protection of the Salt River wild horses in their habitat, the Salt River wild horses are not out of danger yet. The roundup has not been cancelled, only postponed. The Forest Service is listing its reasons for wanting to remove the horses on its website.