AZ wild horse removal: Tonto National Forest Horses

Published: August 5, 2015

AZ wild horse removal: Tonto National Forest Horses, Conservationists in Arizona are protesting U.S. Forest Service plans to remove a herd of wild horses from national forest land that they have roamed for decades.

The herd of horses can often be found near the Salt River in the Tonto National Forest, about 75 miles northeast of Phoenix. Forest Service officials say the horses must be removed as a matter of public safety, according Carrie Templin, a spokeswoman for the Tonto National Forest, KPNX-TV reported.

The agency maintains that the horses were once domestic livestock and therefore do not merit the protections that designated wild horses receive.

Owners of the horses can claim them through Friday by providing documentation. After that, officials plan to begin removing the herd from national land, according to a notice from the U.S. Forest Service.

Over the next year, the horses will be impounded and ultimately sold at auction. According to the notice, “livestock not sold at public sale may be sold at private sale or condemned and destroyed, or otherwise disposed.”

Advocates of keeping the herd intact worry that unwanted horses could be killed, according to a statement from Salt River Wild Horse Management, a non-profit organization that monitors the herd. The group says the horses have lived in the area for hundreds of years, and were most likely brought to Arizona by a Spanish missionary, according to the statement.

The group’s petition has nearly 29,000 signatures, and calls on the Forest Service to agree to the group’s humane management proposal.

The wild horse advocacy group says it will purchase horses from auction and “will welcome the Salt River wild horses into their sanctuary in Prescott, Ariz., in order to prevent them from ending up in cruel situations.”


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