A House panel has passed a measure that would offer protections to the herd of wild horses living near Arizona's Salt River.
Rep. Kelly Townsend of Mesa is sponsoring a proposal that would establish the herd of about 100 horses as state property under care of the Arizona Department of Agriculture.
The Republican lawmaker's measure comes after the U.S. Forest Service planned to remove the horses. The Forest Service has since reversed its decision facing public pressure.
The measure would also stop the slaughter or euthanasia of the horses without department authorization and would opt the state out of paying for management of the herd.
Advocates for the horses say the bill criminalizes euthanasia for humane reasons.
The House federalism committee passed House Bill 2340 on a 5-2 vote Wednesday.