Bill Would Put Salt River Herd Under State Jurisdiction

The bill would protect the feral horses and place them under Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department and USFS jurisdiction.
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Arizona’s Salt River feral horse herd would be protected by local law enforcement and U.S. Forest Service (USFS) authorities under legislation passed by that state’s Senate earlier this month.

Since 1971, Congress has federally protected wild mustangs and placed them under the Bureau of Land Management’s jurisdiction. However, feral horses—such as the Salt River herd—derived from domestic horses that were turned out or escaped their owners are not covered by the federal law.

The Salt River herd gained national attention in August 2015 when the USFS said it would impound unauthorized horses found roaming the Tonto National Forest’s Salt River area on grounds that the animals presented a public safety hazard when they crossed highways and recreation areas. The USFS later agreed to indefinitely postpone the impound until an alternative solution could be found.

In January, State Representative Kelly Townsend introduced HB 2340, which criminalizes injury to the horses and placed them under the jurisdiction of local authorities

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Written by:

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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