Salt River Horse Issue to be Heard at Wednesday State House Hearing: Public Urged to Attend!

Phoenix, AZ (February 15, 2016) . . . Two leading wild horse protection organizations are urging the public to oppose two state bills related to the famed Salt River wild horses in the Tonto National Forest. The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign and the Scottsdale-based Salt River Wild Horse Management Group are asking members to attend the February 17 meeting of the Committee on Federalism and States’ Rights, which will hear HR 2340 and HB 2572, two bills that jeopardize the future of famed Salt River wild horses.

Last summer, the U.S. Forest Service caused a public uproar by announcing its plan to round up and remove the popular herd from the federal lands they’ve called home for more than a century.

According to the groups, the two bills, which are sponsored by State Representative Kelly Townsend, will not protect the Salt River horses as the public demands, and will actually expose them to greater risk.  

  • HB2340, which asserts state ownership of the horses but not the federal lands on which they reside. The bill offers no protections from sterilization or slaughter for the popular herd and authorizes no funds for state management of the horses. It would also criminalize humane euthanasia for horses suffering from fatal injuries.
  • HB2572, which would create a study committee appointed by Rep. Townsend to look at the impacts of the horses. The groups are opposed to a study committee that seeks to remove the federal obligation to manage the horses, thereby removing the possibility of lasting protection for the horses.

“We are urging everyone who cares about the Salt River wild horses to attend this hearing to oppose these bills, which, if passed, will set back the efforts to secure lasting protections for this cherished herd in their historic home in the Tonto National Forest,” said Simone Netherlands, president of the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group, whose members have been documenting and stewarding the Salt River wild horses for more than 18 years.

The hearing will take place on Wed. February 17, 2016 at 9 a.m. in room HHR5, Arizona House of Representatives, 1700 W Washington St, Phoenix, AZ 85007.

The Salt River Wild Horse Management Group is an Arizona non-profit organization established to protect, monitor and scientifically study the Salt River Wild Horses. The SRWHMG has been spearheading the effort to secure lasting protections for this iconic and beloved wild horse herd in the Tonto National Forest.

The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC) is dedicated to defending America’s wild horses and burros to protect their freedom, preserve their habitat, and promote humane standards of treatment. AWHPC’s mission is endorsed by a coalition of more than 60 horse advocacy, public interest, and conservation organizations.


Yesterday, the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group and AWHPC filled the hearing room with local horse advocates as a bill for state takeover of the Salt River Wild Horses who live in the Tonto National Forest was discussed by the AZ House of Representatives Federalism and States' Rights Committee. 
This is a dangerous bill that appears to protect the horses, but would actually allow for their removal, auction and even slaughter. It would also put the horses into the hands of the Nevada Agriculture Department, which would manage them like livestock not wild horses. Many of the bill's supporter's view wild horses as "feral animals" who should be managed like dogs and cats - spayed, neutered, disease tested, vaccinated, etc. 
We will continue to work with the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group to defeat this misleading bill. Because these horses live on federal land, the only way to secure their future is through the federal protection as a recreational resource in the National Forest.  We will continue to work toward that goal.
Read below for our news release and news coverage from the hearing. 
News coverage:
House Panel to Debate Bill on Wild Horses at Salt River
Controversial Proposal to Protect Salt River Wild Horses Moves Forward
House Panel to Debate Bill on Wild Horses at Salt River

Salt River Wild Horse Issue to be Heard at Wednesday State House Hearing