Great news, Green Monsters! Arizona took a hugely important step in ensuring that wild horses remain a part of America’s history by passing a bill through the state legislature and House to protect the Salt River Wild Horses. Forced to drift from their native stomping grounds, wrongfully classified as “stray livestock,” and seen as “potentially dangerous” by the government, Arizona’s iconic Salt River Wild Horses have been in danger of getting rounded up by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to be stockpiled in government holding facilities.
Despite the fact that there have been no reported human/horse injury related incidents in the area, the BLM has been getting rid of these animals at a startling rate. Historic newspapers once reported that over 500,000 wild horses once roamed Arizona. Now, fewer than 500 remain in the state.
Thankfully, as awareness spread about the plight of these animals, preservation organizations and the general public began to speak up about the brutal treatment. Their pleas gained so much attention that the government was left with no choice but to address the issue. The Arizona bill, which passed in the House last week, “criminalizes the harassment or killing of Salt River wild horses, clarifies that they are not stray livestock, and establishes a process for implementing a humane management program.”
While this bill is obviously a win for wild horses, the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group warns that the law comes with some potential snares. One of which requires the state to enter into an agreement with the Forest Service by December 31, 2017, before the law takes effect. Still, the preservation group is confident that an agreement will be made between all parties, and that they will be able to work together to implement an effective and humane management program to permanently protect the horses.
This move is not only important in making sure that wild horses do not cease to exist under our watch, but it is also a powerful demonstration that wild horses are American icons, not pests. Thankfully, the public still has the power to influence these major decisions, and their desires were loud and clear: they wanted their public lands back and they wanted to keep the free spirit of the American West alive through their horses. We’re just happy that the government is finally listening.
Image Source: Salt River Wild Horse Management Group