PHOENIX (KSAZ) - The Salt River Wild Horses have captured the public's attention and the interest of horse lovers the world over. Now, this trace of Arizona's pioneer past has official protection.
The Salt River Wild Horse Management Group be in charge of the wild horses near Phoenix. While horses went about their business nearby, the head of the group celebrated.
"Today, we get to preserve and manage humanely an enormous treasure we still have in Arizona," said Simone Netherlands. "These horses are our heritage. Here for centuries. What a crime it would have been to get rid of them."
The Arizona Department of Agriculture held a competitive bid process for management of the wild horse herd, which contains some 400 horses, and the group that's been there for them all along won the contract.
One of the most important jobs this group plans to do is birth control for these horses to keep their population at a stable level.
"If they don't have that baby, that baby and the next won't have a baby," said Netherlands. "We are managing the population and doing it humanely."
The birth control dose, which is harmless to the horses, is contained in a dart.
"We would take this, and insert it into a live dart and inject it into the tip, and shoot it into the horse," said George Walsh, a certified darter with the group.
The group is grateful for public support and happy for the horses, and they said this means a bright future for these horses. The contract with the state runs one year, and only pays the group $1, as the group runs on private donations.