By Dianne Stallings as published in the Ruidoso News
State officials and herd advocates clear the air and move forward
The unnecessary death of an Alto wild horse gelding brought them together Wednesday for a meeting at the Ruidoso Racetrack Turf Club, New Mexico. Two hours later, herd advocates and representatives of the New Mexico Livestock Board shook hands and walked away with what both sides hope is a new system of cooperation and understanding that will lead to ensuring the safety of the horse herd.
One improvement already initiated as a result of the Alto incident is the ability to sign up for an email notification by the board when stray livestock is acquired by the state agency.
Speaking to Livestock Board Executive Director Ray Baca, District 20 Supervisor Troy Patterson and Brand Inspector Don Hatfield, herd advocate Tom Blaney said, “I think everyone will agree with me that our objective isn’t for conflict or to create more havoc. We want everything to flow through your mandates, but there are some questions about procedures, what do we need to do differently. The objective is for the horses to be adopted out, not just shipped off to the closest auction.”
Baca said that outcome also is one of the agency’s main objectives. “We don’t want these horses going to slaughter,” he said. “If we can get the horses to a good home, to a good place, our intention never is to send horses to slaughter. Our responsibility is for the well-being of the horses.”
“If we gather the animal up on private property, because it is hurt or something is going on, or you guys gather them up, how do we proceed from there, once we have an animal contained,” Blaney asked.
Baca explained a horse must be held for at least five days to give an owner a chance to claim the animal. But after that period, closed bids are accepted and a horse goes to the highest bidder. Before a horse is adopted, it is microchipped to establish ownership and given vaccinations.
Lynda Blaney said the adoption system soon will be tested locally as she and her husband are beginning the process next week with Hatfield for a mare from the herd who injured her leg. They’ve named her Misty.
Baca said if the horses have access to highways and can be a public hazard, a person can contain the horses and call an inspector. Once the inspector is called, he handles the process, including the notification.
“All these horses (in the Alto herd) are deemed running at large and a nuisance, so everyone has a right to pen them on their land, but they have to follow the statutes and notify the inspector,” Baca said…(CONTINUED)