As more and more people begin visiting the Salt River and nearby recreation areas, animal advocates are urging them to give wild horses in the Tonto National Forest space to roam.
“If we're going to keep these wild horses here like the public wants to, then the public is going to have to treat them as wild animals," said Simone Netherlands, President of the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group.
Last week, Netherlands was sent photos of someone harassing an hours-old foal at Butcher Jones Recreation Area. The baby horse died days later. Though they can’t say for sure, Netherlands’ group believes the incident led to the horse’s death by interrupting the bonding time between it and its family.
“It’s irresponsible,” she said.
House Bill 2340, signed into law last year, makes it illegal for people to harass or kill horses in the Salt River herd. State and federal agencies are still working out how to implement it.
Netherlands has been urging the Tonto National Forest to post signs urging people to stay back from the animals.