This is an explanation of the current project on the border of the Sunflower allotment and the Salt River horse habitat.
***Please do not push, disturb or harass the horses that we are trying to get to safety.***
The Sunflower allotment is partially active and partially in non-active status. The allotment has a boundary with the Forest land/habitat where the Salt River wild horses live.
Inside of their current habitat there are no allotments and we do not operate under an allotment arrangement. (Any cattle you see are on the reservation or from the reservation.) The only safe connection between the protected area and the Sunflower allotment is the tunnel, which is just a bit too small for the horses to be comfortable with.
While we may not always agree with the Forest Service, or the allotment owner, we agree that the Sunflower allotment, including Butcher Jones beach, is not a good place for wild horses and the public to mix, since there is only one small and very crowded beach where many incidents happened and where the horses sometimes had to deal with harassment and abuse.
The horses did not historically live there, but more importantly; they often get chased and separated by ATV’s, (as one young horse already has), they are often scared by target shooters, plus they have no access to other bands of horses at all, since they are the only band left. They instinctively know that is not good for them.
The band in question desperately wants to join the horses across the road, who are on the riverside, the “safe side”. So much so, that the stallion has jumped the fences at night to get to them. We then have to run and go protect the public, as well as the stallion, from getting hit on Bush hwy, or ending up on the 4-lane Beeline Hwy (87)
We are simply trying to give these horses the opportunity to get used to the tunnel, but there is a problem. Each time the horses almost go in the tunnel, some not so nice ladies show up, and scare the horses away from the tunnel, on purpose. No matter how much good we do, they say pretty bad things about us, and they apparently think that we are hoarding horses for profit. That is so wildly absurd, we don’t even know where to start.
So right after this picture, this person jumped in front of the horses and she pushed them away and kept going the entire afternoon over the hills and even away from their water source, back to unsafe areas. Because of this setback, the allotment owner, according to his words, might get the opportunity to do things his way. It is our understanding that the horses are not protected there, because of the operative word in the statute “protected where they have historically lived”.
However, they are protected right across the street and they can get there by walking through the tunnel, which we believe they will do, if given the opportunity. We are authorized to perform these projects and we work closely with the AZDA on each decision, ensuring that this herd is managed in the best and most humane way possible. It is a challenging area where almost 8 million visitors come to the Tonto National Forest yearly.
All we can do is ask that people trust that we will always do what is in the utmost best interest of the horses. Their existence and preservation is a very delicate balance between authorities, politicians, anti wild horse factions, and the public. We try carefully to keep that balance, but it can be disturbed at any time.
The long term management plan that calls for only 100 horses to stay, is a recommendation that is on a decision makers desk right now. Our long term humane management proposal is also on the table. This is why horse advocates need to unite. Fighting people who are on your own side of the playing field is a really bad strategy for winning the end game. The end game is for the Salt River wild horses to be able to stay and their numbers humanely managed down.
We cannot always explain every detail of an ongoing project, because too many people will show up to watch, which creates safety issues and hinder the project… but if you send us a sincere message through Facebook, email, or our hotline, we will always answer it.