NOT MY VID - There has recently been an update added to this video about these horses.
Future of Salt River wild-horse herd unclearHorses roaming along the lower Salt River in
the Tonto National Forest have been dazzling enthusiasts and confounding
officials for years.
"These wild horses belong to the citizens of this great country,"
says horse advocate Becky Standridge, who has been tracking and
photographing the horses for more than a year. "They are inspiring and a
treasure. They are part of the American history."
But no government agency wants to claim the herd, which Standridge estimates between 75 and 100 horses.
The animals are not protected since federal officials consider the
herd feral. Equine advocates fear they might be rounded up, auctioned
off and possibly end up slaughtered as "trespass livestock."
"As long as the Forest Service declares these horses feral, they are
stripped of all rights and protections," Standridge said. "Anything can
happen to these horses and there would be no recourse."
Standridge has seen the vulnerability of the herd. Several weeks ago,
she found the dead body of a red stallion she named "Fawkes" on the
The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office said they found Fawkes "severely
malnourished, dehydrated, with a broken leg" when a mounted patrolman
shot him on April 21, Maricopa County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Lisa
Allen said on June 7.
"For us to ask the taxpayers to endure the cost of bringing it to the
vet, return it to the owner, who we don't know, doesn't make any
sense," Allen said.
Tension are so high between the Forest Service and local advocates
that lovers of the horses question whether Fawkes was even injured when
he died, and rumors have swirled of an impending roundup.
Documents obtained by The Arizona Republic, including e-mails
between Forest Service officials and a letter addressed to Rep. Jeff
Flake's office show the Forest Service has considered removing the
horses from the Tonto National Forest.
But no action plan has been decided, and none will be until the fire
season is over, said Paige Rockett, spokeswoman for the Tonto National
Flake's office said they will continue to watch what happens, but denied rumors that a roundup was imminent.
"Congressman Flake will continue to monitor this situation going
forward," said Genevieve Rozansky, Flake's communications director.
Pat Haight, president of the Conquistador Equine Rescue and Advocacy
Program, distributed a news release earlier this month stating that a
roundup could be imminent. That led to a flood of panicked calls to the
"The spreading of that information is, frankly, irresponsible," Rockett said. "We have no formal plan for managing the herd."
The herd's history
The mystery of the origin of the horses and what to do with them has
been a dilemma for at least a decade, records show. Advocates claim
they're wild, with a lineage dating back to the 17th century. The Forest
Service said the horses wandered from the nearby Salt River Reservation
and Fort McDowell Reservation, or were simply abandoned by owners who
couldn't afford to care for them.
Origins are a moot point, because the Forest Service has no authority to manage them as wild, Rockett said.
"We legally cannot manage them as 'wild' horses because they have no
legal territory," Rockett said. "No matter where they're coming from,
according to the law, they were not designated as wild horses."
Standridge, Haight and others have repeatedly claimed the horses are
wild and protected under the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of
"Any unbranded, unclaimed, free-roaming horse on public lands are wild horses," Haight said.
Barry Imler, national program manager of rangeland management for the
U.S. Forest Service in Washington, D.C., agreed with the Tonto National
Forest's stance that the horses are not considered wild. His department
manages the Wild Horse and Burro Program.
"That's not the way we have been reading the act," Imler said in
reference to Haight's definition of a wild horse. "They had to be
free-roaming at the time the act was passed, or its progeny."
Imler explained that when the law was passed in 1971, forest
officials mapped out the locations of wild-horse herds and have been
managing them and their offspring ever since. Horses or burros that fall
outside the territories aren't considered wild.
"We're restricted to managing them where they were in 1971. That's the reason we went out and did all the mapping," Imler said.
Finding a solution
Maps aside, the horses, many of which are unbranded and born in the
wild, continue to roam. And possible solutions for what to do with them
Forest Service e-mails acquired by Haight show five agencies -- the
Forest Service, Salt River Pima-Maricopa and Fort McDowell Indian
communities, the Arizona Game and Fish Department and the Arizona
Department of Agriculture -- are collaborating in a "Feral Horse Working
Group" to decide how to manage the horses, but no decisions have been
In the past, the Forest Service has paid cowboys to round up horses and cattle in the area.
Kyle Romo, who helped round up some of those horses in 2007, has a
potential plan for the horses that he wants to present to his tribe.
Romo, who is part of the cattlemen's association on the Fort McDowell
Reservation and a member of the Yavapai tribe, is familiar with the
The horses have grown small as a result of inbreeding, he said,
making them less desirable to auction. Romo wants to throw a stud in the
herd so that larger, stronger horses will result, thus improving the
animals' auction value.
Besides selling the horses, keeping the herd's population from
growing by using birth control has been discussed within the Forest
Service. But nothing can be done presently, with resources being spent
on the summer's wildfires, Rockett said.
Whatever the plans, if the horses continue to breed unchecked, they
could pose a danger to people on the road and consume valuable
resources, Romo said.
"We're going to have to do something, because after a while we're
going to have all these horses," Romo said. "They're going to start
getting hit if we don't do anything."
By: Jonestown Punch
In: Regional News, Other Entertainment
Tags: salt, water, river, wild, horses, arizona, future, uncertain, wild, free
Location: Arizona, United States (load item map)
Views: 3500 | Comments: 18 | Votes: 2 | Favorites: 3 | Shared: 0 | Updates: 0 | Times used in channels: 3
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