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What Is Happening To The Wild Horses In Salt River AZ?
The Salt River Horses Are A Popular National Forest Attraction
Save Salt River Wild Horses
- Save the Salt River Wild Horses | ForceChange
Sign this petition to the US Forest Service to stop the roundup, capture and warehousing of the popular, economically and ecologically significant Salt River horses of Arizona.
The Forest Service Rushes To Remove Popular Horses Without Public Input
The Forest Service (FS) plans to remove the Salt River horses and is apparently oblivious to public opinion. This herd is incredibly popular worldwide and is a major tourist attraction for the area. Additionally, they are the subject of scientific and behavioral study by various groups. A public notice  was posted on July 30, 2015 saying that the FS might begin rounding up these horses on August 7. The FS claims that the horses are “unauthorized livestock” and say that this affront is an attempt to reunite them with their "rightful owners". This is pure nonsense.
Horses that are not "claimed" will be auctioned off, and that is an almost certain ticket to shipment to slaughter in Canada or Mexico. In addition to this threat, at the end of the public notice is a line stating that horses that are not purchased at auction will be "sold at private sale or condemned and destroyed, or otherwise disposed of.”
Are The Horses Wild?
The original Salt River Horses were brought to the area in the 17th Century by a Spanish Missionary named Father Eusebio Kino. News articles dating from 1890 through 1927 document a thriving population of wild horses during that period. There is no question that the horses have an historic right to the territory they have inhabited for some 400 years.
A century ago, there were more than half-a-million wild horses in the state of Arizona. Today there are fewer than 500. FS documents (the renewal of the Sunflower Allotment Grazing Permit, circa 1930) verify that there was a thriving wild horse population in the area long before the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 was passed. This act was put in place for the protection of wild horses and donkeys on public lands. The Salt River Horses should have been granted protection at that time; however, the FS did not designate the Salt River as these horses’ territory. The agency’s failure to perform its duties correctly should not be a death sentence for these horses.
What Is The Wild Free Horse & Burro Act of 1971?
The Wild Free Horse & Burro Act of 1971 is one of the most popular pieces of legislation every passed. It provides for protection of wild horses and burros on public lands. It called upon the FS to establish territories for existing wild horse and burro herds. The Salt River Herd was in existence at that time according to eyewitnesses and to FS documentation dating as far back as 1930; however, the agency did not establish territory for the horses as they should have done.
What Is Being Done To Save The Horses?
Arizona's Salt River Wild Horse Management Group (SRWHMG) is a registered nonprofit organization. Its purpose is the scientific study and monitoring of the Salt River Wild Horses. They maintain immaculate records of each horse including bloodlines, date of birth and names. These records cover the past two decades. The goal of SRWHMG is to preserve this historic herd for the enjoyment and enrichment of future generations. Be that as it may, if the FS pushes through with its egregious plans, the group is willing to provide sanctuary for the horses on their property in Prescott AZ. Although this would save the horses from slaughter, it would be a sad end to their freedom and a tremendous loss for the people of Arizona, the USA and the world.
The hastily assembled group called "Save the Salt River Horses" (SSRH) believes that the FS failure to establish territory for the Salt River horses was a violation of federal law. The group points out that to remove these horses would be to destroy heritage and steal an economic benefit from the state of Arizona. Furthermore, the group asserts that the horses are an important part of the established ecosystem. The group has set up a petition  and also provides information and media materials.
Why Is This Happening?
SSRH poses the question "Why is the FS in such a hurry and why are they not including public input? In fact, why are they sidestepping public process altogether?"
That is a good question and one that could aptly be applied to the ongoing war on horses all over our nation. Wild horses are being rounded up and warehoused in holding pens for years at taxpayer expense when they could be happily living on OUR public lands according the to will of an overwhelming majority of the people. What is the reason for this?
At base, the reason is greed. Helicopter roundups, holding pens, transportation and hay are all bought from private contractors. The theft of our wild horses from our public lands is an excuse to pour our tax dollars into private pockets. It is a theft of a natural resource that belongs to the people of the United States, and it is happening against our will.
Fully 85% of American citizens oppose horse roundups and horse slaughter and want our wild horses to stay wild and free on our public lands. This is such an emotionally charged issue that it easily distracts our attention from the ultimate goal of corporate powers that are behind the roundups. That goal is the privatization of our public lands.
The roundups began based on a fraudulent report generated by the fracking industry  stating that wild horses were "overpopulated" and "ill". This is patently untrue, but it is easy to see why the fracking industry (and the oil industry, mining industry and water privatizers) would want to get their hands on our public lands and our public waterways. The water in the Salt River area is of tremendous value to the fracking industry and to water privatizers. There is a strong, ongoing push from Republicans in congress to privatize public lands, and indeed, they have already handed over large parcels to corporate interests .
Simone Netherlands, who is president of the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group says that the FS would be making a terrible and irreversible mistake and putting itself on the wrong side of history by rounding up these national treasures. They would also be dealing a blow to the economy of the area and reducing the popularity of the National Forest, a move that would play right into the hands of privatizing advocates.
©Suzanne Bennett:August 5, 2015
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