Congress finds and declares that wild free-roaming horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West; that they contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people; and that these horses and burros are fast disappearing from the American scene. It is the policy of Congress that wild free-roaming horses and burros shall be protected from capture, branding, harassment, or death; and to accomplish this they are to be considered in the area where presently found, as an integral part of the natural system of the public lands.
The Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 (Public Law 92-195)
By Steve Miller
Think of it as a bill of rights for horses. This act ensures their life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness – unless they live along the Salt River.
Public outrage ensued earlier this month when the US Forest Service announced that they were going to dispose of feral horses along the Salt River. Most people rattled their sabers and some even went to court to stop the USFS from doing anything stupid. I use the word “stupid” because their announcement, which left precious little time for intervention or challenge, stated that the horses that weren’t claimed by owners, if there were owners, would be rounded up and “…sold at public sale may be sold at private sale or condemned and destroyed, or otherwise disposed of.”
Both of Arizona’s US Senators and the Governor weighed in on the issue in support of the horses. A conservation group supporting the horses, the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group, proposed some alternative solution to eradicating these beautiful animals from the landscape, but that fell upon deaf ears at the USFS. The news media was abuzz with stories of the impending doom of the wild horses and all of the effort being made to stop the Forest Service from removing them.
It seems like a no-brainier. Everyone loves the horses. Nobody can come up with a good reason to remove them except for the lame “we are not authorized to manage wild horses” excuse given by the USFS. Look, these horses are completely self-supporting. They aren’t hurting anything… or are they? Continue reading