Horse roundup plans placed on temporary hold

The National Forest Service said on Thursday that they plan to take another look at the situation involving up to 100 feral or wild horses in the Tonto National Forest.

- It's a story that has captured the attention of many in the nation; it involved a plan to round up and remove nearly 100 wild horses that roam freely in the Tonto National Forest.

Critics fear the horses will be auctioned off and killed.

Federal officials say the animals pose a safety risk, but the plan has now been stopped in its tracks.

It's a big turn of events, the plan seemed like it was going to go ahead on schedule but an Arizona lawmaker sat down with the U.S. Forest Service and convinced them to put the roundup on hold for now.

Since word got out of the possible roundup hundreds expressed concern and reservations including State Rep. Kelly Townsend. She met with the Tonto National Forest Manager to ask them to hold off, something they agreed to.

"They're willing to look at other options and wait in the meantime and look at the different ways we can deal with any issues that they might be having without going to that last resort of just auctioning them off," said Rep. Kelly Townsend.

Because of this, no decision will be made before Congress comes back into session in early September. Townsend says this gives them time to work with the Forest Service and other lawmakers to come up with the best solution to save the horses. She says selling them for auction is the last thing she and others want to see.

"It gets purchased for cheap, and it gets sold to the slaughter house for glue, because these horses aren't broke, and people don't want to spend money, and we don't want to see that," said Townsend.

The Forest Service says the Salt River horsed do not belong in the Tonto National Forest, and they could be a danger, advocates say the horses have roamed free on the land since the 1930's.

"It made us feel like we truly can change the course of history, we truly can. This is our public speaking, this is we the people, this is America, and we're letting our government know what we want," said activist Simone Netherlands.

Townsend also says another thing to consider is the effect that removing the horses will have on tourism. She says hundreds of people visit the area to photograph and paint the horses. She also says they are a part of Arizona's history.


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