Town hall meeting addresses plight of Salt River horses

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MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

The U.S. Forest Service originally wanted to round up and remove the wild horses roaming in the Tonto National Forest. But that plan has been put on hold for now.

However, the horses’ fate is still very much up in the air.

More than 100 people gathered for a town hall meeting in Mesa Sunday to voice their concerns and offer solutions.

Residents said the horses are crucial to this state because they are part of Arizona's identity.

The goal was to discuss what's next, after controversial plans to round up the wild horses were put on pause.

The U.S. Forest Service originally wanted to remove the horses from national forest land due to safety concerns.

Lawmakers got involved, a lawsuit was filed, and then the Forest Service backed down.

But many folks are still concerned about the Salt River horses.

“I don't want the next generation to wake up one morning, and say, ‘Oh my gosh. They're removing our horses in six days.’ We have to protect them now. Declare them wild and create a sanctuary for them,” said Laurie Walker, who was at the meeting.

"People aren't trained to interact with wildlife. We need to train people," said Sheryl Styles, who wants a permanent solution for the horses. "It's learning and teaching people how to interact with wildlife not removing our wildlife from our beautiful areas."

The lawsuit is moving forward and the group behind it hopes it will help prevent the feds from ever removing the horses.

Copyright 2015 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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