“Soon after federal officials announced the imminent capture of 100 or so horses within the boundaries of a national forest near here [Arizona Salt River] — to be sold at auction, “condemned and destroyed, or otherwise disposed of” — a resourceful cadre of self-appointed guardians issued a desperate call for action.” F. Santos, The New York Times
Excerpt: Threat to Arizona’s Salt River Horses Spurs New Battle… By Fernanda Santos NYT
“The response was broad and fast, stunning the guardians, as well as officials at Tonto National Forest, to whom the horses are a nuisance and a risk. Some 200 volunteers organized on July 31, the same day the notice of the planned capture appeared in a local newspaper, offering to stand between the horses and whoever tried to catch them. Dozens more gathered for a rally at a recreation area by the Salt River, holding signs and chanting, Wild and free, let them be, despite oppressive 112-degree heat.
With pressure mounting, the Forest Service hit pause. Last month, Neil Bosworth, the Tonto National Forest supervisor, suspended any planned roundups for four months.
We have explored, and continue to explore, alternatives to address the horses. The statement highlighted the service’s discussions with cattle owners, American Indians, state groups and horse advocates to seek a collaborative solution with the input of the public and interested parties.
The horses that roam along the Salt River in Tonto National Forest, as well as in the neighboring Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community and Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, have no owner, or at least none who has stepped forward since news of the plans for their removal. The problem with the horses is that they pose a risk of collision for visitors on the busy, narrow roads leading to the river, forest officials said.
Between Jan. 1, 2013, and Aug. 4, the authorities in Maricopa County received 26 complaints of horses on or near these roads and responded to four collisions, which caused no serious injuries to humans but resulted in one horse’s death. If they are eventually rounded up, some of the horses might end up on farms. Others might be taken to Mexico or Canada for slaughter — a practice that is not currently allowed in the United States. If their supporters have their way, the horses might end up in sanctuaries — or stay right where they are.
On a recent afternoon, south of where visitors finish rides along the Salt River on tubes that rent for $17 a day, a band of horses dipped their heads in the water, feasting on clumps of eelgrass. Ahead, Anne Dougherty, 60, knelt in the east bank of the river, submerged up to her waist as she admired a mare and her foal resting under the shade of a willow tree. This is their land,” said Ms. Dougherty, who lives in Apache Junction, on the southern edge of Tonto National Forest. “Why don’t we leave them alone?”
For more information visit : Save The Horses of the Salt River
A special “Wado” to K. Houpt
“A Horse never runs so fast as when he has other horses to catch up and outpace.”~Ovid~