Arizona Governor Signs Historic Bill to Protect Salt River Wild Horses

Phoenix, AZ (May 11, 2016) …. This morning Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed into law HB 2340, the bill to protect the famed Salt River wild horses of the Tonto National Forest near Phoenix. Outside the State Capitol, dozens of Salt River Wild Horse Management Group (SRWHMG) members and supporters, joined by riders on horseback waving flags, are celebrating the Governor’s signing of this historic legislation. 

“This is a victory for the Salt River wild horses but even more it is a victory for the public, which would not stand for the disposal of this cherished herd,” said Simone Netherlands, president of the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group (SRWHMG). “Our elected representatives have upheld the public’s strong desire to protect our Salt River wild horses and treat them as irreplaceable Arizona treasures, not stray livestock. We are deeply grateful to Governor Ducey for his support from the very beginning,” said Simone Netherlands, president of the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group

Simone Netherlands of SRWHMG, Gov. Ducey, and Greg Patterson (representing AWHPC).

“Now the hard work begins to establish humane management program to keep Salt River wild horses wild in cooperation with federal, state and local authorities and the community,” Netherlands continued, noting that the legislation includes an enactment clause that requires the state to enter into an agreement with the Forest Service by December 31, 2017 before the new law becomes effective. 

The SRWHMG has 100 active volunteers and a daily presence on the river documenting and stewarding the herd and educating the public about safe observation and protection of the horses.

“The success of this legislation to protect the Salt River wild horses is testimony to the strength of public support for protecting and preserving wild horses on our public lands,” said Suzanne Roy, Executive Director of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, which has worked alongside the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group to pass HB2340. “Thank you to Governor Ducey, the Arizona Legislature – including bill sponsor Representative Kelly Townsend – and the Arizona Congressional delegation for their strong support of the beloved Salt River wild horses.” 

AWHPC is implementing a humane, community-based management program for the Virginia Range wild horses through a cooperative agreement with the Nevada Department of Agriculture. Like the Salt River horses, the Virginia Range horses lack federal protection but enjoy broad public support. 

HB 2340 criminalizes harassment or killing of a Salt River wild horse, clarifies that they are not stray livestock, and establishes a process for implementing a humane management program in cooperation with federal, state and local agencies and a private entity.

The bill cleared its last legislative hurdle last week and was signed into law by Gov. Ducey at 10 a.m. this morning. 

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.

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