Protected: Salt River wild horse preservation begins in 2018

By Ashlee DeMartino, 3TV/CBS 5

“We are a little slow on the draw, here, but hats off to Simone and our good friends at Salt River Wild Horse Management Group, job well done.” ~ R.T.

The Salt River Wild Horse Management Group celebrated with champagne. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

SALT RIVER, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) – With champagne in hand, the volunteers with the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group chanted and cheered on Monday.

“We are not just celebrating New Year’s today, we are celebrating that we preserved a true piece of Arizona history,” said Simone Netherlands from the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group.

The Salt River wild horses are officially protected.

“They are protected from harassment, from shooting. They are protected from someone causing them any injury and protected from slaughter,” said Netherlands.

[RELATED: Advocates of wild horses deliver 300,000 signature petition to Sen. Flake]

If anyone is caught doing any harm to the horses, they will face a misdemeanor charge.

“I think everyone is thrilled at this that they get to stay,” said state Rep. Kelly Townsend, R-Mesa.

The group, along with Rep. Townsend have spent two and a half years working with the Governor’s Office, the U.S. Forest Service and the Arizona Agriculture Department.

“It was a long drawn out effort and so such pleasure to finally be done with it and start to move forward with management,” said Townsend.

The next step is to work with a nonprofit on humanely managing the horses.

The Salt River Wild Horse Management Group hopes they will be chosen to do so.

“So glad future generations will see these amazing historic animals that have been here for hundreds of years,” said Netherlands.

“If there’s [sic] the seven wonders of Arizona our horses would at least be in the top three,” said Townsend.

Video: Equine Advocates Alarmed Over Salt River Wild Horse Harassment

Source: Salt River Wild Horse Management Group and

Public Harassment May Have Caused Foal’s Death

From Simone Netherlands; “Dear Supporters of the horses, please click this link first, then you can leave a comment under ABC15’s post about the harassment of wild horses. The more you care, the more you share, the more people will be aware. Thank you!”

Cactus Fire Threatening AZ Salt River Wild Horses

Amazing Recognition of Death in Wild Horses

reported by Salt River Wild Horse Management Group

“Sad, but beautiful. …”

“Many times I have heard our good friend, Ginger Kathrens, say that our fight for the wild horses is all about their Freedom and Family…this story speaks to the heart and verifies that Ginger is spot on in her description of what wild horses are all about.  Many thanks to all the great people at Salt River Wild Horse Management Group for sharing this poignant moment with us.” ~ R.T.

We did our very best today, to help a young wild mare who’s baby had gotten stuck and died during delivery. Our experienced field team had jumped into action and our vet was getting there as fast as she could, but sadly the mare went into septic shock and passed, the baby had simply been stuck for too long. She was a beautiful dun mare, just 2 years old, her name was Clydette, daughter of Bonnie.

But just as nature gave us heavy hearts and reminded us of how harsh it can be sometimes, it then immediately showed us how amazing it is also. So we’d like to concentrate on that, as it gave us all goosebumps.

Right after we moved away from her body, we witnessed how her band came and nuzzled her, after which the roan, her lead stallion, cried out for her very loudly. Shortly after that, they moved away from her body but stayed close.

Other bands heard that call and suddenly came out of nowhere and then knew exactly where the lifeless body lied, even while there were no other bands around when she passed.

What happened next was amazing; the other bands stood in line taking turns saying their goodbye’s. First one band, then another. Then the two lead stallions of those two bands got into a short power struggle. Then you can see how Clydette’s lead stallion comes running back one last time letting out a short scream in a last effort to protect her, or perhaps to tell everyone that she was his.

It takes a most highly intelligent species to understand and actually mourn death. We have seen bands mourn their losses before, but for other bands to come and mourn her death also was simply awe inspiring. These animals have evolved to have amazing survival skills and very close and protective family bonds. In this natural behavior, lies true scientific value.

This video was taken after her own band (with the powerful roan) had already said their goodbyes and walked on. This is approximately 30 minutes after she had died. We invite everyone to draw their own conclusions.

We thank all of the bystanders and public who were very considerate, helpful and respectful in particular the lady who called this in. Our emergency number is (480)868-9301

Rest in peace Clydette and little Tootie.

(Baby was named by member Destini Rhone who lost her aunt Tootie on this same day, rest in peace aunt Tootie also.)

AZ Gov Signs Bill to Protect Salt River Wild Horses

by Howard Fischer Capitol Media Services as published on

“There’s rules now that we all are going to have to abide by…”

“Hats off to Simone Netherlands, the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group and all those who worked behind the scenes to make this happen.  Job well done.” ~ R.T.

A Salt River horse and foal graze at Butcher Jones Recreational Area in Tonto National Forest located near Mesa on Thursday, August 6, 2015.(Photo: Isaac Hale / The Republic)

A Salt River horse and foal graze at Butcher Jones Recreational Area in Tonto National Forest located near Mesa on Thursday, August 6, 2015.(Photo: Isaac Hale / The Republic)

PHOENIX — A herd of about 500 wild horses along the Salt River could soon get protection from everything from being removed by the Forest Service to being harassed by drunken tourists.

Gov. Doug Ducey signed a bill that makes it illegal to harass, shoot, injure or slaughter a horse that is part of the herd. And even capturing or euthanizing a horse that is injured or is causing problems would require written authorization from either the state Department of Agriculture or the Maricopa County sheriff.

Rep. Kelly Townsend, R-Mesa, who spearheaded the legislation, said this should end the threats to the herd that began last year after the U.S. Forest Service announced it would round up the horses in the Tonto National Forest and sell them to protect the environment in and around the river. Environmental groups sided with the federal agency.

But that provoked an outcry from horse lovers and even a lawsuit to prevent their removal.

The Forest Service agreed to back off, at least for the time being. This new law specifically authorizes the state to enter into an agreement with the federal agency where the state would effectively be in charge of managing the herd.

More to the point, Townsend said, it shields the herd from humans, well-intentioned or otherwise.

“We had some folks that would go down there and maybe had been drinking too much and wanted to ride a horse,” she said. “And the worst part is when the folks would be down there shining a light on a mare when she was foaling.”

All that, Townsend said, should come to an end.

“There’s rules now that we all are going to have to abide by,” she said.

Well, not exactly.

The language of HB 2340 says the provisions take effect only if an agreement is hammered out with the Forest Service by the end of next year. But Townsend said she is convinced that will happen, noting that a Forest Service official was at Wednesday’s signing ceremony with the governor.

AZ Legislature Passes Bill to Protect Salt River Wild Horses

as posted on Phoenix’s Fox 10

wildhorsesPHOENIX — The herd of wild horses living near Arizona’s Salt River would have new protections under a proposal the House has passed with bipartisan support.

Rep. Kelly Townsend of Mesa is sponsoring a proposal that would make it illegal to harass, shoot, kill or slaughter a horse that is part of the Salt River herd of about 100 horses that have historically lived around the Lower Salt River and Saguaro Lake.

The proposal comes after the U.S. Forest Service planned to remove the horses. The Forest Service has since reversed its decision facing public pressure.

Townsend amended her proposal with additional protections after meeting with The Salt River Wild Horse Management Group.

The House passed House Bill 2340 on 53-3 vote Thursday. It now moves to the governor’s desk.

For video go to:

The uncertain fate of the Salt River horses

By Rebecca Brisley as published on The State Press

““We never gave up on the horses and we never will, either…”

On a sweltering afternoon, Simone Netherlands stood on the rocky shore of the Salt River. A tall woman with blonde hair, she wore a T-shirt that said: PROTECT AND RESPECT WILD HORSES AND BURROS.

She was very familiar with this stretch of the Salt River, at the Coon Bluff recreation site in the Tonto National Forest near the outskirts of the Phoenix metro area. The landscape resembled a Western movie set – the river, cacti, brush, beige-pink soaring cliffs and, for those lucky enough to visit the place at the right time, approximately 100 free-roaming horses that rely on the river for water and forage.

To Netherlands, they’re beloved. She calls them the Salt River Wild Horses, and spent much of the last year battling authorities and environmentalists who wanted the horses removed from the land.

Netherlands is a leader of the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group, which has monitored the herd for years. She said removing the horses from the land would destroy the herd—a herd she said is a living link to the historic Wild West.

She said removing the herd could result in the purchase of some of the horses by “kill buyers,” who would sell the animals to Mexican slaughterhouses.

“Whenever there are wild horses for cheap, kill buyers are there and they stuff them in their trucks and drive them to Mexico,” she said. “Who else but a kill buyer would want a truckload of wild horses that are not tamed?”

In October 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management reported that a Colorado rancher, who bought 1,700 wild horses from the Bureau of Land Management

Wild Horse and Burro Program and resold them to kill buyers who sent the horses to Mexican slaughterhouses.

“It is absolutely our worst nightmare,” Netherlands said. “It is so awful to think about.”

She has rescued horses for years, she said. When she was 10, she took horse-training lessons at a military base in Holland. If the horses misbehaved, the instructors would tell their pupils to whip the horses after the lessons, she said. She realized she didn’t need to be cruel to the animals in order to work with them, and that compassionate, patient training was the route that horses would respond to. When she was 20, she started humane horse training, she said, and she now runs a horse-rescue organization, Respect 4 Horses, and has a sanctuary in Prescott where several rescue horses reside.

“I used to myself purchase horses from the kill buyer that lived close to me and I would retrain them and adopt them out for free,” she said.

About 12 years ago, she began to devote much of her time to what is now the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group. Netherlands helped document and monitor the herd with others who were also interested in the animals, like photographers along the banks. She said the group studies the horses and advocates for their safety. Netherlands blamed humans, not horses, for causing the most ecological damage to the river, saying damage from the horses is minimal. She noted pollution from littering, old barbed-wire fencing and even the controlled flow of the river in the winter are factors that damage the river’s ecology.

Because of their closeness to the city, the Salt River horses are well-known and controversial. The horses have tens of thousands of fans on Facebook. They often stand quietly in the river while tourists, just a few feet away, snap photos with their phones.

One winter afternoon, three horses grazed in the river next to two cattle. They were protected by tangles of cattails and thorny bushes on the bank. Down the road, a band of six horses had gathered underneath a mesquite tree at a picnic area that was closed for repair work. A colt clung to its mother’s side. Its face was adorned with a white stripe, just like the mare’s. A filly with a caramel-colored coat pranced around playfully and was not afraid to break away from the others—though she never strayed too far away from her family. After about 20 minutes, the horses finished grazing and walked toward a brush-laden mountain.

The presence of the horses on the river has fired up disputes between public agencies, conservationists and animal advocates. For nearly a year, the animals have been the subject of protest marches, letter campaigns, visits to Arizona’s congressional delegation in Washington, two federal lawsuits, and two proposed laws in the Arizona Legislature.

But today, the fate of the horses remains undecided…(CONTINUED)

Dead Salt River Horse Dotty: Joe Arpaio’s Deputies Left Her Headless Corpse to Rot

NOTE:  We posted the article below, but received a credible comment from Vicki O’Neill stating “Speaking on behalf of Sheriff Arpaio who is a well known animal lover was wondering how the blame of burying the carcass falls on him?  Wasn’t the carcass floating in the river? What about the Forest Dept doing something about it? He was probably told the head had to be removed for an autopsy for forensic evidence.  He did help get money together for an award for the conviction of this killer.  Also we think it’s great that Arpaio pressed for investigation and charges against that awful kennel that neglectfully killed 20 dogs. Good for him!”

Our apologies to Sheriff Arpaio, and we agree, good for him.  Thanks, Vicki, for setting the record straight.

Source:  Phoenix New Times

Warning:  Graphic photo below.

by Stephen Lemons

Something’s rotten in Coon Bluff, thanks to Sheriff Joe and the MCSO.

That something is the headless carcass of Dotty, one of the famed Salt River wild horses, found on October 1, shot to death and floating in the river near Coon Bluff, a heavily trafficked part of the Tonto National Forest popular with campers, tubers, photographers, and picnickers.

Reportedly, the 12-year-old mare had been shot four times, three times in the head and once in the body.

The Salt River Wild Horse Management Group, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting the animals, suggested that the shooting of Dotty “could have been someone attempting a mercy kill if the horse was injured,” or it may have been “someone with cruel intent.”

Despite photos taken by passers-by showing what seemed to be obvious bullet holes in Dotty’s noggin, the Sheriff’s Office initially was unconvinced of foul play and issued an October 5 press release saying as much.

Days later, the MCSO reversed itself, stating in an October 15 press release that a necropsy of the animal done by a veterinarian “showed that the horse had been killed by gunshot” and had been healthy before the shooting.

Arpaio, supposed defender of four-legged beasts, eventually offered an $8,000 reward for the arrest and conviction of Dotty’s killer.

“We will follow every lead,” the sheriff promised at the time, “[and] make every effort to find the suspect and bring justice to Dotty’s death.”

Four months later, the investigation hasn’t budged an inch, and neither has Dotty’s desiccated, decapitated form, which remains on the sandy banks of the Salt River, a large gaping hole where its head used to be.

Seems Arpaio’s beige-shirts lopped off the head and left the blackened, bloated body to rot, inundating the area for weeks with the smell of death and clouds of flies and other insects.


If Arpaio and his minions really were all that concerned about the Salt River wild horses, why did they leave Dotty’s noggin’-less corpse to decompose near a campsite?

Read the rest of this article HERE.

Town Hall Meeting Addresses Plight of Salt River Wild Horses

By Erika Flores of

“many folks are still concerned about the Salt River horses…”

Click Image to View News Video

Click Image to View News Video

MESA, AZ (KPHO/KTVK) – The U.S. Forest Service originally wanted to round up and remove the wild horses roaming in the Tonto National Forest. But that plan has been put on hold for now.

However, the horses’ fate is still very much up in the air.

More than 100 people gathered for a town hall meeting in Mesa Sunday to voice their concerns and offer solutions.

Residents said the horses are crucial to this state because they are part of Arizona’s identity.

The goal was to discuss what’s next, after controversial plans to round up the wild horses were put on pause.

The U.S. Forest Service originally wanted to remove the horses from national forest land due to safety concerns.

Lawmakers got involved, a lawsuit was filed, and then the Forest Service backed down.

But many folks are still concerned about the Salt River horses.

“I don’t want the next generation to wake up one morning, and say, ‘Oh my gosh. They’re removing our horses in six days.’ We have to protect them now. Declare them wild and create a sanctuary for them,” said Laurie Walker, who was at the meeting.

“People aren’t trained to interact with wildlife. We need to train people,” said Sheryl Styles, who wants a permanent solution for the horses. “It’s learning and teaching people how to interact with wildlife not removing our wildlife from our beautiful areas.”

The lawsuit is moving forward and the group behind it hopes it will help prevent the feds from ever removing the horses.

Federal Judge Rejects Emergency Request to Block Salt River Wild Horse Roundup

“It would be a historic and colossal mistake if the Forest Service would go through with these cruel, cruel plans,”

A federal judge declined to issue an emergency order restraining the Tonto National Forest Service from ousting a famous herd of wild horses from its home along the Salt River in Mesa.

While U.S. Forest Service officials originally announced plans to begin rounding up the horses Friday, in response to aggressive public pushback, the agency agreed not to make a move until September.

With the immediate threat lifted, the judge instructed the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group, a nonprofit that monitors the herd, to deliver the lawsuit to the Forest Service and give them a chance to respond. A hearing is scheduled for August 12.

“There’s no need to panic at this point,” said William Miller, a Scottsdale attorney who is representing the horse advocates. “The game hasn’t even begun.”

The Salt River Wild Horse Management Group is suing the Forest Service for violating the federal Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, which declares wild horses vital to the “natural system” of public lands and mandates they be protected from “capture, branding, harassment, or death.”

The group also alleges the Forest Service violated the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 because they did not conduct an environment assessment or impact study prior to ordering the horses removal.

“It would be a historic and colossal mistake if the Forest Service would go through with these cruel, cruel plans,” said Simone Netherlands, president of the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group…

…More than 100,000 people have signed an online petition opposing a roundup, inspiring a number of Arizona and U.S. lawmakers to intervene on the herd’s behalf.

In a letter sent to Tonto National Forest Supervisor Neil Bosworth Wednesday, U.S. Senators Jeff Flake and John McCain called on the agency to engage the public before taking action.

“Whether they are treated as feral under state law, or ‘wild’ under federal law, horses are a celebrated icon of the west,” they wrote.

Governor Doug Ducey chimed in, too.

“The federal government should leave our wild horses alone,” he wrote on his Facebook page. “But if they don’t, Arizona will do everything we can to protect them, provide them sanctuary, and ensure they are treated humanely.”