“The story below is presented unedited so you will see the word ‘feral’ used often. I do not claim to possess abundant knowledge as to the origins of the horses on Navajo land, but I cringe when I hear that word applied to the wild horses on public lands as they are at the very least, a reintroduced natural species (fodder for an OpEd, later). So tighten up, you are about to enter Feral Land.” ~ R.T.
A controversial hunt was aimed at reducing the numbers of feral horses near Teec Nos Pos, Arizona
FARMINGTON — A wild horse hunt aimed at thinning a herd in an Arizona trophy hunt area was abruptly cancelled on Monday as opposition to the hunt grew and a protest was planned.
The tribal government’s natural resource regulators last week issued a proclamation declaring the 2018 feral horse management hunt. It was designed to remove 60 horses from the Carrizo Mountains near Teec Nos Pos in northeast Arizona.
The Navajo Nation Division of Natural Resources this afternoon rescinded the proclamation, according to a notice on the Navajo Nation Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website.
President Russell Begaye said in an emailed statement that the hunt will be postponed and the proclamation was rescinded to allow for public input and education.
Protest was planned
Tens of thousands of feral horses roam Navajo Nation lands — and the Navajo Nation Department of Fish and Wildlife is seeking ways to reduce that population.
Following the release of the hunt proclamation horse advocates, including members of the Facebook group Indigenous Horse Nation Protector Alliance, organized a rally for Friday morning in Window Rock, Arizona, to protest the hunt.
Gloria Tom, the director of Navajo Nation Department of Fish and Wildlife, said the public outcry led to the cancellation.
Hunt should go before tribal leadership
In an email statement, Navajo Nation Speaker LoRenzo Bates said his office was not aware that the executive branch had made a decision to issue permits for hunting feral horses.
“As Navajo people, we are taught to respect all life forms and that includes horses,” Bates said. “Considering the cultural and historical factors and concerns over water shortages and overgrazing — this is certainly an issue that should have been brought before Navajo leadership and medicine people to discuss and consider.”
If the hunt had not been rescinded, hunters accompanied by wildlife conservation officers would have been able to kill non-branded horses that were at least two years old. Hunters would not have been permitted to kill mares that have foals with them.
Begaye said the Carrizo Mountains near Teec Nos Pos in northeast Arizona has been critically impacted by the feral horses. He said the Navajo Nation Department of Fish and Wildlife’s proclamation specifically targeted the Carrizo Mountains.
The proclamation called for removing up to 60 horses over a six-day span from the Carrizo Mountains.
Tom said the Corrizo Mountains is one of the trophy hunt areas of the reservation. She said the department was concerned about the impacts of the horses on the habitat, especially about the impact on mule deer.
She said the severe drought in the region will increase competition for food and water.
“We’re looking at a very severe outlook for lack of precipitation through July this year,” she said.
Tom said the drought was one reason the department hoped to remove horses to reduce the stress on the landscape and wildlife…(CONTINUE)