Tonto National Forest: Horses Living Near Salt River To Be Removed By Feds

Tonto National Forest horses

The officials at the Tonto National Forest in Arizona are planning on removing the herd of wild and unclaimed horses on the land starting on Friday, August 7.

According to USA Today, the horses can typically be found living near the Salt River in the Tonto National Forest, about 75 miles northeast of Phoenix.

While the more than 100 wild horses have roamed the area for decades, Carrie Templin, a spokeswoman for the forest, says they have to be removed and impounded as a matter of public safety as they are considered “unauthorized livestock.” The horses have also reportedly become a nuisance, with many of them roaming onto the Bush Highway near Mesa and entering the nearby campgrounds.

“We’ve had several cases where horses have been hit on the highway and causing vehicle accidents, and we have horses coming into the campground into a heavily used high recreation area,” said Templin, according to AZCentral. “We would love to see these horses go to a safe place where the potential for accidents don’t exist.”

The decision to remove the horses has upset many Arizona natives and visitors.

“These horses mean so much to not just us, but our entire American public, they are probably the most popular wild horses in America,” said Simone Netherlands, the president of the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group, which is a non-profit organization that monitors the animals. Netherlands notes that the massive roundup could result in injury or death to the animals.

“It’s not hard to understand when you chase a one-day old baby with a helicopter that it’s going to break its legs,” she said, according to Fox 10 Pheonix.

Netherlands is also concerned for the fate of the animals after they are herded off the land. While Templin says they are going to good homes, Netherlands fears they will be killed.

“It’s very likely there will be kill buyers at that public auction, there’s absolutely no telling how much suffering is in store for these horses,” said Netherlands.

According to a notice from the U.S. Forest Service, people will be able to claim their horses by providing documentation, and the remaining “livestock not sold at public sale may be sold at private sale or condemned and destroyed, or otherwise disposed.”

Lori Murphy, a manager at Wildhorse Ranch Rescue in Gilbert, said the horses are no more dangerous than any other wild animal that is allowed to roam in the forest, and she doesn’t understand why they should have to leave.

“How are they more of a danger than a rattlesnake or a coyote?” Murphy said. “Are we going to start rounding up the other animals, too?”

Do you think the Tonto National Forest should remove the wild horses? Leave your comments below.

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