How to keep a wild horse off the road but also out of a cattle guard:
This week, SRWHMG, responded to another wild horse in the cattle guard, which was quite awful. We sedated the horse (named Ladybird) and then our volunteers and MCSO and Rural Metro Fire department worked hard to free her from her predicament.
In 2019, we SRWHMG, also responded to 18 wild horse accidents on Bush Hwy. These were quite literally our worst nightmares; 15 of them died or had to be euthanized.
Because of the safety risk to the public, it was determined by authorities that horses could no longer cross the road and as a result the Salt River wild horses lost their grazing grounds on the Southside of Bush Hwy. They were fenced into the Northside with the new Forest Service fences. Then these cattle guards were installed by MCDOT and ever since then, no Salt River wild horse has been hit on Bush Hwy. So that is not a bad thing.
Now if we were in charge and if we had lots of money (which we do not), we would have used barb-less wire for fences and horse-safe cattle guards that their legs could not get stuck in, and we would have built an overpass to give them their access to the Southside. All of these aspects are in our long term management plan, and we have done everything we could to advocate for it.
What we want people to understand however, is that we are not in charge. We cannot just do whatever we want. We cannot make this entire area about only the horses, and we cannot just remove the cattle guard or fill them with sand or go buy some metal and sound and light effects to attach to the cattle guards. (thank you for the suggestions though .
Nevertheless, as you all know, even while we are not in charge, we have reached protection and humane management of this cherished herd, which is going really well. We have reached this much, because we maintain a balance between standing up for the horses, while also staying reasonable, professional and cooperative with the authorities who are in charge.
So we continue to work with the authorities with appreciation because we never forget that without their cooperation, the Salt River wild horses would not be here today, and could still be removed if we are not careful.
So even while this is very frustrating, we want to thank our supporters for staying polite with the requests and emails to MCDOT. We also want to thank MCDOT for responding to all of those emails and for trying to find solutions that are in line with their parameters and liability they have to take into account.
If you wrote them an email, this is the response you will receive from MCDOT:
“MCDOT is saddened to hear that a horse was caught in the cattle guard at Phon D Sutton this weekend. We are grateful that the horse sustained only minor injuries. However, we are also relieved that the cattle guards prevented this horse from entering Bush Highway and potentially being struck by a vehicle. We have received a request from our partners at the Arizona Department of Agriculture (AZDA) and the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group (SRWHMG) to place a deterrent prior to any cattle guards to discourage horses from attempting to walk across the cattle guards. After careful evaluation, MCDOT will be painting a series of stripes resembling a cattle guard prior to the cattle guards and installing the associated wing rails to help deter the horses from approaching the cattle guard grates. We will be completing these efforts in partnership with the US Forest Service (USFS). We are currently working on our design. While, we do not have a current schedule for the installation of this deterrent, we will continue to work closely with the AZDA, USFS and SRWHMG to keep our momentum moving forward.”
We want to thank MCDOT and the Forest Service, as well as thank our supporters. We look forward to solutions that are as comprehensive as possible, so that THIS will never happen again.
P.S. Ladybird is still a little stiff but is back together with her band and healing.