HEBER, AZ — US Forest Service officials say they are committed to adopting out what they describe as "excess horses" currently roaming on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest near Heber, Arizona.
March 16 is the last day for the public to submit comments on the Forest Service's proposed action.
It includes rounding up roughly 80 percent of the horses and limiting the remaining horses to a 21 square mile area. The Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest covers more than 4,300 square miles.
While the plan states, "excess animals, for which an adoption demand by a qualified applicant does not exist, shall be destroyed in the most humane manner possible," Deputy Forest Service Supervisor Anthony Madrid says the Forest Service does not actually have the authority to do that.
Killing the horses would require new Congressional authorization.
Dozens of the federally protected wild horses have been shot dead since October of 2018. No suspects have been named and no arrests have been made.
Madrid says the Forest Service is seeking public opinion on the plan. A link to the public comment page can be found on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest website.