Horses on federal forest land in Arizona were once tied to tribes

Horses in Arizona. Photo from Salt River Wild Horses / Facebook

A plan to remove horses from federal land near two reservations has stirred passions among politicians and residents in Arizona.

The U.S. Forest Service was going to round up about 100 horses from the Tonto National Forest until public outcry forced the agency to change course. Now there are plans for more talks, likely with the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community and the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, whose reservations border the forest.

Members of the two tribes knew their horses sometimes crossed into the forest, according to a 1974 memo quoted by The New York Times. That's why the agency concluded the animals did not qualify as "wild" because they contained brands found on both reservations.

That designation sticks today -- the Salt River Horses are considered to be "unauthorized livestock," according to the Forest Service. No one from either tribe has come forward to claim them.

"In an attempt to locate owners, the Forest Service has been in contact with the neighboring tribal lands since 2012, former permittees, and the Arizona Cattle Growers," the agency said.

Get the Story:
Threat to Arizona’s Salt River Horses Spurs New Battle Over Western Lands (The New York Times 9/7)

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Salt River Tribe opposes removal of wild horses on federal land (08/05)

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