Advocates proposing new legislation to protect Alpine horses

SB 1057 would ban shooting, killing, and sending horses to slaughterhouses.
If passed, SB 1057 would ban shooting, killing, and sending Alpine horses to slaughterhouses.
Published: Jan. 27, 2023 at 5:59 PM MST
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ALPINE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - Forty-three horses in Alpine, Arizona, were shot and killed in October 2022. Hundreds have been removed by the U.S Forest Service for causing problems like damaging watersheds, negatively impacting ecosystems and threatening other wildlife. “Currently, we have fewer than 200 Alpine horses left in the Apache Forest, so people have to speak up before they are all gone,” said Simone Netherlands with Salt River Wild Horse Management.

Netherlands and other wild horse advocates are proposing new legislation to protect horses in the Apache Sitgreaves National Forest. “Today, it’s 2023, and there are better ways to control wild horses then to send them to slaughter,” she explained.

If passed, SB 1057 would ban shooting, killing, and sending Alpine horses to slaughterhouses. “We love wild horses; they are historic, they’re beautiful to see, they’re great for tourism, and so we really want the public to give these alpine horses a voice,” she said.

In a statement, the Forest Service said wild horses are protected under The Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, but “any horse that is present on the National Forest that does not fall within the definition of a wild horse... would be considered unauthorized livestock or feral horses.” Also stated, those “feral horses” are in the process of being removed. Cattle growers who live in the area also want the horses gone.

Barbara Marks owns a ranch in Alpine. “They can grub the grasses and other fortes down to the dirt; they also fight other animals off of waters,” she said. The cattle growers aren’t just concerned about resources for their livestock but are worried about the horse’s ability to thrive in the forest. “All bones and skinny, they’re dying,” said Mike Gannuscio with Arizona Cattle Growers Association. “We don’t want them out there because it’s not healthy for them, they all need to be removed.”

Wild horse advocates told Arizona’s Family the solution isn’t to get rid of horses but to stabilize the population using birth control methods proposed in SB 1057. Simone said her volunteers are trained to shoot darts into the horses that will last up to a year, and it would be an inexpensive option. However, the Forest Service said those methods aren’t a legal option in this case. SB 1057 remains in the Senate.

Any horses removed by the Forest Service will be held for five days for someone to claim with proper paperwork before being put up for public sale. More information on Alpine horses can be found here.