MARICOPA COUNTY, Ariz. (KSAZ) - Controversy surrounds a plan to remove wild horses from the Tonto National Forest. On Monday, Forest officials posted a public notice saying the horses could be rounded up after Friday.
Many are upset over the news and a horse conversation group launched a campaign in opposition of the plan.
The Salt River Wild Horse Management Group invited the public to join them today. Everyone from horse owners to horse photographers, expressed their anger over the recent notice. Many were relieved, however, to learn that an attorney and several representatives are getting involved in the fight against wild horse removal.
Hundreds of distraught horse lovers braved the heat to protest the removal of the Salt River Horses.
"It would be a historic and colossal mistake if the forest service would go through with these cruel plans, it would be a robbing of this community and all the public of America," said Simone Netherlands, President of the conversation group.
The event was organized by The Salt River Wild Horse Management Group. But the loudest cheers were for an attorney who says he plans to file for an injunction in federal court to stop the horses from being removed.
"There is actually a wild free-roaming horses and burros act, that is the federal law that has not been abided by, in this case," said Bill Miller.
Activists say the forest service states that the horses were claimed by the Salt River Indian Community in 1971 when the act was made, however, they challenge if that is true.
Representative Kelly Townsend also spoke, she said the horses must be designated as "wild" and not "feral."
"There's only certain powers allotted to the federal government the rest are left to the states. This is our business, not theirs," said Rep. Townsend.
Also lending her support was Amanda Marsh, the widow of Yarnell 19 Firefighter Eric Marsh. She used to work for the forest service and vows to save the herd in her husband's memory.
"He loved horses, he was an amazing horseman, and he really loved mustangs and wild horses, he would be here today if he were alive," said Amanda Marsh.
Rep. Townsend says she will meet with Tonto National Forest Supervisor Neil Bosworth on Wednesday.
The conservation group still plans to gather on horseback and bikes on Friday to block any attempts by authorities to round up the feral horses.
The group is also hosting a petition hoping to change the minds of the Forest Service. http://chn.ge/1InFbCr