Horse News

Tribal sanctuary available to Salt River wild horses



(photo:  Salt River Wild Horse Management Group)

by EJ Montini

The wild horses of the Salt River have a safe refuge. If only they knew to go there.

Perhaps they’ll sense it.

The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community already has wild horses on its tribal land. They know the value living wild and free, and they know as well, as all native people know, what it is like to have one’s boundaries defined by the federal government. On Tuesday, after learning that the U.S. Forest Service planned to institute a program that would remove the horses from the Salt and Verde Rivers northeast of Mesa the tribe issued the following statement:

“On Monday August 3, 2015 the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community (SRPMIC) was made aware of an extensive operation by the United States Forest Service (USFS) to remove wild free-roaming horses from lands under the jurisdiction of the Tonto National Forest, this includes areas on the Salt and Verde Rivers beginning Friday August 7, 2015.

“The SRPMIC tribal land is adjacent to the Tonto National Forest on its eastern boundary. The Salt and Verde rivers also lie at the Community’s eastern edge. While the Community is happy to work with agencies on the management of wild free-roaming horses it was unaware of the USFS planned actions. Neither the Community nor its staff participated in the planning of the roundup or have attended a Feral Horse Working Group which has been erroneously reported in the media.

“Since the 1970s the SRPMIC has had an active Wild Free-Roaming Horse Ordinance that recognizes their contribution to the diversity of the Community while enriching the lives of people. At any given time, there are approximately 60 wild free-roaming horses in the river area within the tribal boundaries of the Community near the Salt and Verde Rivers. Additionally, the Community has a Northern Range herd that has approximately 180 wild horses within the range area of the Community. If a wild free-roaming horse is within the Community boundaries, it is subject to the Community’s ordinance for protection. ”

Protection, particularly from the government, is something the animals shouldn’t need. But they do.

The horses already have on their side the dedicated and energetic members of the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group, which has been rallying public support for allowing the animals to remain where they are.

The Forest Services is feeling the heat.

Tonto spokeswoman Carrie Templin on Tuesday said the Forest Service would not initiate the round-up Friday and that there was no specific timeline for the removal of the horses.

She did make the argument, however, that removal was necessary for the horses safety, owing to the danger of accidents on the Bush highway.

The problem with that argument is the Forest Service’s own notice of removal, which read in part: “All impounded animals not redeemed within 5 days after notice of sale of impounded livestock has been published in a local newspaper, posted in the county court house and in one or more local post offices, will be offered for sale at public auction. Livestock not sold at public sale may be sold at private sale or condemned and destroyed, or otherwise disposed of…”

I’d guess the horse would prefer to take their chances crossing the highway than with a public auction. And I’d guess that the majority of motorists who travel that road would agree.

In the meantime, here’s hoping as many horses as possible find their way to Salt River Pima-Maricopa tribal land, where wild horses living free and unencumbered lives are not a threat or a burden but appreciated for “enriching the lives of people.”

18 replies »

  1. Dave Duquette and Protect the Harvest is posting they and the local Ranchers are behind this. The fear mongering that pro horse slaughter does by stating these horses are causing accidents is to cajole them out of existance. I would like to tell Dave I personally had a horse killed by a car when I was young and ti make people Afraid of what isnt happening is a terror no one should endure for a rumor. Theres no immediate danger and No officially documented issue from Any Agency validating the Need for removal based on Actual studied accidents in the area these horses are located in. To manipulate the media and public using the Forestry Service is unreal. The idea of accidental car crashes with horses causes fear and worry however this issue isnt valid. The fact they ma knob e such horrific claims to Destroy horses carefully wording public auction first here indicates they are manipulative emotionally. Having lost a horse to a serious car accident I know the pain and fear that ravages you and I know that the public shouldnt be exposed to false pretenses. These people should be Ashamed of themselves and stop spreading malicious lies to cast out wild horses. They are real animals who dont need destroyed because they MIGHT POSSIBLY REMOTELY get in front of a cat once in a decade.


  2. I have friends who live out there and they were irrate. I would love to see them when I visit in the fall. Some of these people are idiots!


  3. There is a solution that has been used with success and could easily be implemented anywhere. I don’t know whether the federal funding is still available, but if it isn’t, it should be
    The Strieter-Lite reflectors qualify under several federal matching fund programs that could serve to reduce State/Local funding requirements. The Federal Highway Administration’s Federal Surface Transportation Funds/Hazard Elimination Fund provided 80% Federal funding matched by 20% State/Local funding.

    The Transportation Equity Act (TEA-21) includes a special category that the reflectors fully comply with “projects to reduce vehicle-caused wildlife mortality while maintaining habitat connectivity.”

    The wildlife warning roadside reflector system is a proven, cost effective concept that is here today and works very well. Roadside reflectors are a safety device that significantly reduces car-deer accidents preventing personal injury, the great trauma involved in this type of accident, and vehicular damage, as well as reducing the number of deer killed and injured. There is no other known approach that has proven to be effective in significantly reducing car-deer accidents.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Mr. Fitch: Why cannot volunteers drive them to the Indian Sanctuary?? I’m In! How can we spread the word…..It would do more than save the Salt River Horses, It would show in a dramatic how much some people care….and maybe, just maybe, create an outcry for ALL of the Mustangs. Maybe now is the time for some civil disobedience.
    Your response please:


  5. And let’s round up and kill ALL deer, cattle and sheep that might also possibly cross the road and cause a traffic hazard, not to mention your own little ones- just in case they decide to run across the road unsupervised. RIDICULOUS!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The reason for the removal is to let cattle take over our public forest which will be the real danger as they kill young trees, cause erosion, destroy riparian areas and cause water pollution with E. coli. The FS is not fooling us with their BS,

    Liked by 1 person

  7. It is pure bullshit for them to get their way, killing the wild horses or putting them in jail for the rest of their lives, Sick SOB’s, using your and my tax dollars to do this with, just throwing away money your tax dollars.


  8. I’m very glad to read this. This reminds me of wildlife on military bases. The majority of military bases indirectly serve as refuges for wild animals such as deer that would otherwise be at risk being hunted. My dad is in the Coast Guard, so I have had the privilege of seeing various wildlife within the vicinities of these bases. He was previously stationed at the Tracen Coast Guard Base in Petaluma, California and the Black Tail Deer and wild turkey populations there were thriving. I hope that the horses find similar refuge within the Indian Reservation.


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