AZ group: Plans to round up wild horses dropped

Posted at 4:04 AM, Dec 11, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-11 06:04:48-05

The U.S. Forest Service has informed the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group that it plans to withdraw its July notice to round up and impound the wild horses that roam the Tonto National Forest along the Salt River, according to the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign.

Wednesday's announcement comes just days before the notice was set to expire.

Forest Service officials have called the animals a safety concern in the highly-used area.

Last Friday, Congressman Matt Salmon sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack urging the Forest Service to move quickly to implement reasonable, humane solutions and protect the horses where they live.

"While much work remains to be done and many details to work out, this is a very positive step toward protecting these horses, who are clearly valued by the public," said Suzanne Roy, Director of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign. "It's wonderful when our elected representatives and government agencies listen to the will of the people."

SRWHMG previously filed a federal lawsuit seeking an injunction to stop the Forest Service from rounding up the horses. They later dropped the lawsuit as a sign of good faith in an effort to continue negotiations with the Forest Service.

Arizona's political leaders, including Gov. Doug Ducey, Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake have expressed support to establish long-term protection for the Salt River horses.