Source: The Fountain Hills Times
“The Salt River horses are beautiful, majestic and a treasure to our state,”
Governor Doug Ducey has officially signed House Bill 2340, providing extra protection to the wild horse herd that makes the Lower Salt River and Saguaro Lake area their home.
The passage of the bill was announced during a press conference on May 11, featuring support from Representative Kelly Townsend, who reworked the most recent version of the bill, as well as Sheriff Joe Arpaio and advocates for the Salt River herd.
“The Salt River horses are beautiful, majestic and a treasure to our state,” Governor Ducey said in a statement. “Since last summer, we have worked to protect them and their ability to roam free.”
Last year, the Tonto National Forest Service announced that approximately 100 horses historically living near the Salt River would be “impounded,” as they had been labeled as stray animals, turned out by their owners.
Public outcry led to Tonto National Forest Supervisor Neil Bosworth postponing any decision involving the horses.
While a form of the recently signed bill was already passed by the Senate, it was argued that the wording did not fully protect the horses and needed to be reworked. To provide further protection, Rep. Townsend consulted with The Salt River Wild Horse Management Group in order to strengthen the bill, making it illegal to “take, harass, kill or otherwise interfere” with the wild horses.
That proposal was sent to the Senate and met with approval and, last week, returned to the House where it received a vote of 53-3. With Gov. Ducey’s support, HB2340 is now official.
“Many Arizonans were rightly outraged when the future of the Salt River Horse was put at risk, and I was clear then that I would do everything in my power to protect them from danger,” Ducey said in his statement. “Today, I am proud to sign a bill that paves the way [for] state, local and federal forces to work together to keep them free from interference or harassment.”