Severe drought calls for emergency measures down by the Salt River.

Wild horse advocates say without rain, the horses that live there might soon starve.

Every evening for the last two months, volunteers with the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group have been leaving hay for the wild bands of horses that call the Tonto National Forest home.

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With little to no naturally growing grasses to graze on, they say the horses were losing weight and starting to struggle.

"If we would not be feeding them right now, that pair would die. Absolutely without a doubt," said Simone Netherlands with the SRWHMG, referencing a skinny mare and foal eating at one of the feed sites.

[SLIDESHOW: Salt River wild horses]

The Salt River horses are now protected by state law. Working with the Arizona Department of Agriculture, the group has been feeding at 12 secret sites near the river.

"It doesn't make them any less wild. We feed them strategically so they think they just got lucky coming upon some grass. We don't want to feed them where a lot of public is," said Netherlands.

She adds, "We don't want anyone else to be doing this and we ask that no one else feed wild horses because it could make them tamer and less wild."

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The emergency feedings are not cheap. Each bale costs about $15, and they buy by the semi-truck full. To date, the group has spent $32,000 on hay.

"This is a huge program, this is a huge undertaking that we never thought we would have to do," said Netherlands.

[MORE: Animal news on azfamily.com]

The SRWHMG is asking for donations so they can continue the feedings till the rain arrives.

The feedings also come with a birth control program starting in just a few weeks so the animals don't overpopulate either.

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