Originally Published: December 30, 2017 5:58 a.m.
The Salt River Wild Horse Management and its national coalition partner, the American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) commended Gov. Doug Ducey and the U.S. Forest Service for reaching an agreement for the management of the Salt River Wild Horses, according to their news release Friday.
The agreement fulfills the conditional enactment clause of the Salt River Wild Horse Act, passed by the Arizona Legislature and signed into law by Ducey in May 2016.
The agreement establishes a management structure and process to provide humane management for the Salt River wild horses, which reside on the Tonto National Forest. The agreement authorizes the state to partner with a non-profit organization to assist with management and care of the Salt River Wild Horses. The Salt River Wild Horse Management Group stands ready to provide that assistance and continue its long-standing role in caring for these majestic horses.
The group’s president, Simone Netherlands, held a press conference with three recuperating rescued baby Salt River horses on Friday in Mesa.
“Two years ago, the Salt River wild horses were almost removed and slaughtered. Today is a great day. The Salt River wild horses are protected from harassment and slaughter. We are deeply grateful to Gov. Doug Ducey for his compassion and dedication to protecting these cherished wild horses, to state Rep. Kelly Townsend for introducing the bill that made this agreement to protect the horses possible, and to the Forest Service for recognizing the public’s strong interest in protecting this historic and popular horse herd,” Netherlands said.
“The Salt River Wild Horse Management Group, with our 100 volunteers and daily presence on the Salt River, is ready to roll up our sleeves and enter into an agreement with the state to continue our management of this wild horse herd that people from all over the world travel to see,” Netherlands added. “We are grateful for the enormous public support for our work, which has included the rescue and treatment of seriously injured Salt River wild horses, fixing miles of fencing to keep horses out of roadways and education/outreach activities to keep the public and the horses safe.”
Two years ago, the Forest Service announced its intent to remove and “dispose of” the Salt River wild horses. The Salt River Wild Horse Management Group, assisted by AWHC, swiftly coordinated rallies and ignited a public outcry so large that it changed the fate of these beloved and majestic animals. Subsequently the groups negotiated and fought for passage of legislation for the horses’ protection. The legislation goes into effect on Jan. 1.