Equine Rescue

NM Senate Committee Passes Horse as Livestock Bill

Dianne L Stallings , Ruidoso News

“Wild Horse Advocates fear new provisions could lead to the elimination of wild herds…”

Members of the wild herd rounded up last year were photographed crossing at their designated point on the highway leading into Alto and Ruidoso.(Photo: Courtesy/Melissa Babcock)

Members of the wild herd rounded up last year were photographed crossing at their designated point on the highway leading into Alto and Ruidoso.(Photo: Courtesy/Melissa Babcock)

Local advocates for wild horse herds in New Mexico piled into a bus at 3:30 a.m. Thursday and headed to Santa Fe to voice their views on an amended version of a state senate bill they feared would lead to the elimination of wild horse herds that roam the Alto area north of Ruidoso.

Despite the efforts of advocates, they reported that members of the Senate Conservation Committee passed the bill in less than five minutes. A series of hearings led to modifications of the original bill submitted by State Sen. Pat Woods, a Republican from Quay County, that eliminates the classification of domesticated horse.

While under the amended version horses still would be lumped into the broad definition for livestock that fall under the jurisdiction of the New Mexico Livestock Board, specific exceptions were included for Spanish colonial horses and for a “wild horse” defined as an “unclaimed horse without obvious brands or other evidence of private ownership that is determined by the board to originate from public land or federal land or to be part of or descended from a herd that lives on or originates from public land; but does not include horses that are subject to the jurisdiction of the federal government pursuant to the federal Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act.”

Public land does not include federal land controlled by the Bureau of Land Management, the Forest Service or state trust land.

Under the amended version, a wild horse captured on private land in New Mexico at the discretion of the livestock board “shall be” humanely captured and relocated to state public land or to a public or private horse preserve; adopted by a qualified person (for an adoption fee); or humanely euthanized provided the option is the last resort when the horse is determined by a licensed veterinarian to be crippled or otherwise unhealthy or cannot be relocated to a public or private wild horse preserve or adopted.

A new section throws in another wrinkle for the future of “wild horses” such as the herds in Alto. That section in the amended bill provides when requested by the board to determine the viability of a specific New Mexico wild horse herd on the range they occupy, the range improvement task force of New Mexico State University will evaluate the range conditions to determine the number of wild horses that the range can support while maintaining its ecological health.

The task force will report the results of the evaluation to the board. “If required, the board may cause control of the New Mexico wild horse herd population through the use of birth control and may cause excess horses to be humanely captured” and relocated, adopted or euthanized…(CONTINUED)


26 replies »

  1. I live in NW NM and volunteer at Four Corners Equine Rescue in Aztec. I also administer their affiliate – the New Mexico Estray Equine Fund. I solicit donations to reimburse bids for all NM rescues on equines captured by the NM Livestock Board. We usually “win” the wild horses in NW NM. I’ve been trying to find a map that includes a breakout of public lands and state trust lands. Does anyone have a link?


  2. I should have said the committee. We now have a Democratic legislature,but I don’t know if that will make a difference. I’m still confused about the amendment, and the article doesn’t help.


  3. So how is it that an exotic, non-native species from Africa can be brought into New Mexico while the White Sands Wild Horses were completely removed?

    A graceful gazelle becomes a pest
    Oct. 22, 2001

    LAS CRUCES, N.M. – They are majestic animals, weighing 400 to 500 pounds, their straight black horns 30 to 40 inches long. Their faces are adorned with distinctive black-and-white masks, and they stare at you as if deciding whether to run.

    They are oryx gazelles, from the Kalahari region of Africa. But this is the Chihuahuan Desert of southern New Mexico, where the animals have been multiplying since 1969, when the New Mexico Game and Fish Department released oryx as part of its exotic animal introduction program on the White Sands Missile Range.

    The idea to provide exotic big-game hunting opportunities for local hunters originated just after World War II with Frank C. Hibben, today professor emeritus of archaeology at the University of New Mexico, but then chairman of the New Mexico Game Commission.


  4. New Mexico has lost enough of its Wild Horses AND Public Land.
    More Herd Areas that were zeroed out and land that just somehow “disappeared”

    Last Gather

    TOTAL ACRES 97,917


  5. How can this be true? Typo?

    “Public land does not include federal land controlled by the Bureau of Land Management, the Forest Service or state trust land.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • State Trust land is not considered public land though it is in a public trust for educating that state’s students, but BLM and USFS land is undeniably public land. Maybe there are some exceptions but they aren’t the rule.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Can anyone show me when horses were listed as Domestic Animals? I was under the impression that they were still listed as Livestock.


  7. Centuries-old bones of horses unearthed in Carlsbad
    By By: PHILIP K. IRELAND – Staff Writer July 17, 2005

    Last week’s discovery, high on a hill overlooking the Agua Hedionda lagoon, follows the discovery in June of the skeletal remains of another horse and a small burro, said project manager Dennis Gallegos of Gallegos and Associates, the contractor hired to explore the site.

    The finds are significant because native North American horses were thought to have been extinct more than 10,000 years ago, and the remains are older than the recorded conquests by the Spanish, who reintroduced horses to the New World.
    One horse and the donkey appear to have been buried ritualistically with their heads to the north, faces to the left, and their bodies “flexed” in the fetal position, an American Indian method of burial. The newly discovered horse, its ocher-colored bones already fading to yellow from exposure to sun and air, was not similarly posed.

    Researchers said they know horses were deliberately buried because they can see definite lines where someone cut into the shell layers to dig a burial pit.
    Researchers said they know horses were deliberately buried because they can see definite lines where someone cut into the shell layers to dig a burial pit.
    “I’ve been doing this for 16 years and I’ve never seen anything like it,” Tift said.
    The bones show no signs of cutting, splitting or crushing that would indicate a violent death, Piek said. Researchers see no signs the horses were butchered for meat.
    Carlsbad then

    Taken together, the features of the site suggest that the hilltop was used by American Indians from about 5,000 years ago.


    • This is great, Louie. I had the first article but nothing on this second find, and the radiocarbon dating which is certainly pre-Columbian. It is well documented there were substantial. horse mounted Bison hunting indigenous cultures in the early 1700s much further north the the Spaniards had ventured––and these horses were not new to these peoples but an abundant and integral part of their culture. I’ve done significant research in this area and hope to pursue a PhD on it but so far no obvious way to do so has appeared.


      • a suggestion for a PHD is to review all of George Catlins art, travel and writings. He described Indian horse herds with smaller type Indian horses and a few other type with *Spanish brands* He also painted mixed Indians, half Spanish after the Spanish passed through those areas. Catlins records may help establish a timeline. Another suggestion is to DNA test wild horse remains around the old 1950s corrals, as remote as possible. Remains of horses military killed when they attacked Indian villages, the Army always killed much of Indians own herds. I remember once reading about Ice core DNA tests finding horse DNA when horses were supposed to be ‘extinct’. I think it was Canada. I really think DNA testing and Carbon testing could prove horses are a fully North American native species. Horses were always here.


      • Sunlei, yes, yes and yes. I have a substantial amount of documentation already done but not the means or university sponsor to take anything forward to eventual scholarly publication. For now I am trying to keep digging and keep elevating the national discourse and awareness of what is going on with our wild horses. I also believe we need to hold to a higher standard than we accept from our government officials and their “communications” and obfuscations.


      • IcySpots, how much do you think you’ll need? Sounds like KickStarter might be a good way to try to raise funds to finish the project and publish.


      • Geri, thanks for the link, hadn’t seen that one yet. Thought at first it was the debunking of the “family tree” we all learned in grade school, which is now understood to be more like broccoli florets!

        Linda, great suggestion–had located one University Dept. chair that was open to the idea but he was retiring within a few months so no chance to pursue. All is on hold for now, and it seems our wild horses may be essentially extinct before long. Since we have no qualms about exterminating other native species the “invasive” argument is used but even if proven untrue isn’t the whole story, sadlly. I’m convinced “feral” is the new “N” word, with all that implies. It’s clear our society is still ripped apart by such divisive world views with no end of that in sight, just the end of many things we cherish. I am in hopes the equids who survived all these millennia in one form or another will continue to speciate, but they cannot if we relentlessly isolate and contracept them. By so doing we rob them of their own past and their own future. For what?

        Here’s something worth reading and a man worth remembering:

        “Enjoy the time you have, because it is already too late. We’ve passed the threshold. The beginning of the end has started. Man may, or may not be, part of the plan nature has for the Earth in the future. Life will be reborn, but first the world as we know it now will die.”~Jacques-Yves Cousteau



      • Icy – thanks to you, I have another source of info – The Bullseye Media! Have spent an hour or so sitting here (!) reading one article after another. I guess its a darned good thing my time is my own!


      • IcySpots, I’m glad you can use that information. I thought it had been posted before but we do cover a lot of ground here. We’re all pulling for you to get your PhD. I do suppose that the academic world is as political as any other, but I’m certain that you will be able to chart a clear course…but it must be exasperating at times.


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