Bill Relating to the Salt River Wild Horses Gains Support of Horse Advocates; Passes House

Updated, March 3, 2016

Phoenix, Arizona. . . . On February 25, the Arizona House of Representatives approved HB 2340, as finally amended. (Read more below for details.)The bill, which aims to protect the famed Salt River wild horses in the Tonto National Forest, is now in the Senate, where it is scheduled for a hearing before the Federalism, Mandates and Fiscal Responsibility Committee on March 8 at 9 a.m.

The Salt River Wild Horse Management Group and the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign previously  opposed HB 2340, but dropped their opposition, after bill sponsor Representative Kelly Townsend significantly amended the legislation to better protect the horses. The groups sent a letter to the House of Representatives urging support for the amended bill.

The Townsend amendment removes the provision that would have attempted to assert Arizona jurisdiction over the Salt River Wild Horses. The bill would have placed the herd under the management of the State Department of Agriculture, which would have cost the state an estimated $1 million annually and resulted in their management as livestock, not wild animals. The bill as now amended and passed recognizes and stipulates that the Salt River Wild Horses are not livestock.

The amended bill also defines the scope of the herd and clarifies that horses that are part of the Salt River Wild Horse Herd are not stray animals. Additionally, the amended bill establishes clear jurisdiction and provides a process to resolve any incident that requires interaction with the herd in order to protect the health and safety of the horses and the public. The bill also criminalizes harassing, shooting or killing Salt River wild horses and affirms their importance to the state.

“We thank and commend Rep.Townsend for addressing our concerns and for working to craft legislation that will promote protection of this historic herd that is so loved and treasured by the people of Arizona,” said Simone Netherlands, president of the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group.

The Salt River Wild Horse Management Group and the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign have been working to secure lasting protections for this beloved herd since last summer when the US Forest Service announced the impound and removal of the beloved herd. The groups maintain that the Forest Service has the duty, responsibility and legal authority to manage all resources within the Tonto National Forest and that the Salt River wild horses are clearly an important and valued economic, historic and recreational resource within the forest.

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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More information on the Salt River wild horses can be found here.