Advocates, Feds at Odds Over Wild-Horse Herd Near Heber

A herd of wild horses in the Heber-Overgaard area is at the center of a debate between the U.S. Forest Service, which wants to control the horses' population, and environmentalists, who argue they should be left alone.

The Arizona Republic reported last month that the horses, which number at least a few hundred, are the subject of a management study being conducted by the Forest Service, although it likely won't be completed until 2016. Some of the horses may be descended from an originally wild herd, while others escaped from White Mountain Apache Tribe land and other places when the Rodeo-Chediski Fire tore through the area in 2002.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management manages two herds in Arizona totaling about 200 wild horses, according to the agency's website. The Forest Service also manages several horse and burro territories in the state.

The agencies have the authority to determine how many horses the land can support and whether the herd's population is managing itself.

In some cases, federal agencies say, domestic horses enter the wild after escaping from or being abandoned by private owners.

"I would estimate a substantial portion of horses out there. ... God knows where they came from," said Ed de Steiguer, a University of Arizona professor and author of a book about the history and politics of wild horses in the U.S.

Local resident Mary Hauser, who has tracked the horses for years, is fighting to prevent them from being rounded up.

Hauser frequently follows the washes, meadows and clearings where the "Magnificent Seven," a band of male horses, and Old Buck, her personal favorite, spend their days. She said she has never touched or fed the horses but has seen births, deaths, fights and tender moments.

You can learn more about the situation at the Heber Wild Horses Facebook page.

(Photo: Three of the wild horses from the Heber-Overgaard area. | Courtesy of Heber Wild Horses Facebook page)

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Horses are a beautiful part of Arizona's heritage and history. Leave the horses alone, how can you think about getting rid of them? There is nothing more majestic than wild horses.

T Whom it May Concern: The beautiful Horses are a part of our American Heritage!! PLEASE leave them FREE!!!

Exactly, our government has gone MAD CRAZY ! This should Not be happening. period! meagat unnatural

just like us Indians you won't be ok til we are extinct. Leave the horses alone !

These wild horses are an important part of Arizona's history; as a matter of fact, the history of the Unite States. We need to make sure the horses stay wild and free in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests. We need to only continue to educate all on the cooperation needed to make sure they are saef and free. People need to continue to not feed or water them. They are only looking for food and water as all animals are. Allow these animals to stay free on our American Lands.

yes, let them stay. They are an essential part of Sitgraves Forest. They belong there as the trees do. Let them these times when we are losing all of nature, we need to start protecting it. Choose nature. What happens to them, happens to us. We need the wild.

Keep the government away and let them be. What we really should be doing is rounding up all the government bureaucrats and figure out how to reduce that population.

I agree Michael. I'd love to help if you get THAT round-up organized!

Whether their ranks have had the introduction of domestic horses, the horse should be left alone. They are as much a part of our environment as any of the other wildlife.

Our Federal Government has allows the BLM to manage wild horse's to near extinction. When was the last time one could count on the government to report realistic numbers? The BLM does not go out and watch these horse's like the advocates do, the advocates can trace blood lines back. These horse's have earned a place to be free. Without them, where would mankind be today? Wild horse's are out numbered on the range by close to a 100 to 1 and on some ranges far more cows over run the horse's. At some point we must stop and put away the greed before public land and it's wild life is decimated. We must leave some places untouched for the animals and the generations to come.

Too many crazy people on earth also ! Too many.. well there are BETTER solutions if it is kept simple. mustang advocates have written solutions for this. The politicians & ranchers know nothing about wild american mustang's history!!! Stop the BLM mismangement!! :(

These wild horses are a national treasure. We cannot let them be removed from our public land. That forest already has cattle grazing, which is fine but the whole thing cannot be turned into a cattle ranch. Leave Arizona's wild horses alone!

To Whom it May Concern: Horses are a part of our American Heritage!! PLEASE leave them FREE!!!

Just leave them be !! Why do humans have to mess up everything ??!!!

Leave the horses on the land. They belong there and the land belongs to them. Horses have served man in wars, working, friendship and it is time they are left alone!! No more roundup!!

These horses are an American treasure! It is important that they be left in the forest not only due to their historical value but because they are so loved by so many of us who feel fortunate to still have some wild horses in our great state of Arizona. I hope the Arizona Highways will do an article about them in their wonderful magazine. They could get some amazing wild horse photos! The U.S. Forest Service is going to be announcing their scoping summary for these horses in the very near future.

Leave the horses on the land. They belong there and the land belongs to them. Horses have served man in wars, working, friendship and it is time they are left alone!! No more roundup!!

Please stop with the round ups. There are so few wild horses left. We are already witnessing the extinction of wild horses across the US. Dont be part of that. Please just leave them alone.

Please leave the wild horses alone. Taking them away from their home is a cruel, horrible thing to do. Think what horses meant to us from the beginning of settling this country. They do nothing to hurt any people or creatures. They live off the land in peace. Leave them alone!

Why should beef, oil and gas have more power than the American People? These are our National Treasures...our wild horses and burros....please fight for them.....once they are gone...they are gone forever ...avarice and greed cannot be allowed to win yet again. Please stop this .....

Are these lands needed for cattle grazing? I would rather see the land preserved for the horses and their offspring.

Leave the wild horses & burros alone! We the people are tired of paying for round ups we don't even believe in! Let the advocates help manage the population along with BLM & DOI! That way we see what is going on! Let's work together! Be logical not & stop the removal of our wild animals.

if you have never seen a herd of wild horses running free, running wild, you should....there is nothing more majestic or more moving than watching these magnificent animals running and playing and living on wide open spaces. as they were meant to...and as they should do...

These horses are our National Treasures and should be protected at every level!

When I see Forestry Service and The BLM remove cattle from public lands, then and only then will I believe Forestry and BLM actually care about the ecosystems, especially that of Heber Forest. Cattle destroy the land , horses add to the ecosystem. I'd rather see a horse than a cow any day. Forestry, BLM, F&W act as a mercenary army for the ecoterrorist ranchers. I wouldn't trust a thing they said nor any study they did.

I totally agree with the wild horse supporters, especially those saying cattle should be removed from these lands because they do much greater environmental damage that a hundred or so horses. For too many years greedy people have abused our public lands. The land needs to be returned to the public for their use, not use by special interests! 959

As a long time Arizona citizen. it saddens me to think anyone would consider harming the well being of these beautiful animals. Please all of us, protect and cherish them.

The wild horse populations are tiny compared with the cattle population. Wild horses are a natural part of the landscape and are valuable in their role of managing the environment. It makes environmental and economic sense to maintain a wild horse population.

As a Federal Tax Payer from New Jetsey, I strongly oppose any removal of these horses from the US Forest. I also oppose any personal /commercial cattle from being allowed to graze in such a forest that my tax dollars help maintain. These horses are part of the ecosystem there and we here on the East Coast travel to your state just to see them.

These wild horse's have a very important place in the echo system. These horse's add up to a few hundred. I'm asking you to leave these majestic horse's alone .

Wild horses do much to maintain balance in a healthy eco-system..Whereas a cow has 4 stomachs and pretty much what comes out of the other end is WASTE..with horses, many of the nutrients needed by the soils are retained in their manure. They do a good job of re-seeding, replenishing..they are a vital part of keeping systems healthy..Please, no more removals for the sake of beef cows..

These horses should stay wild and free in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests. That they are an important part of Arizona's history and an integral part of the ecosystem. This is where they belong, this is their home!

It seems the BLM will not be satisfied until all the wild horses are gone. And the ones that are not under the BLM can be sold to slaughter. This all has nothing to do with horse numbers, but with politicians and the oil, mining, and cattle industry. If the public doesn't start speaking up to their state politicians, these horses will be gone....

The Heber Wild Horses deserve to be able to stay where they are! It is environmentally, economically, and even more important MORALLY imperative that these horses be allowed to live, and to live on their land. To remove them is simply criminal and unacceptable!

These are OUR horses, protected by the 1971 Wild horse and Burro Protection Act. BIA and Forest Service need to obey the law, not ranching and petroleum interests.

These horses in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest should stay where they've been for years. They like wolves are essential to the environment. Do not remove them or inject them with anything. Mother Nature takes care of her own and we humans need to respect her.

Please leave these animals alone. The current practice of using helicopters to herd wild animals into a small corral is barbaric. The damage to babies who must run at 'extreme terror speed' is huge. Some babies can't keep up. If mom doesn't notice her baby dropping back, the little one is left all alone to starve to death. Herding wild animals onto trucks to haul them to corrals in the middle of nowhere, with no shade, no grass, no running water, is barbaric. Once at these detainment camps, family groups are separated with no regard to where each animal is shunted off to. These animals are part of our heritage, and I sincerely hope that the BLM will agree to let other groups offer and implement different ways of maintaining this population all over the US, not just in the Heber area. Mares can be darted with contraceptives. If the stallions can't find a fertile mare, they won't be creating more horses. The big money ranchers think that because they lease ground from the BLM, they have the right to dictate what happens on that land. However, studies show that the cattle, numbering approximately 20 cows to 1 wild horse, have decimated the land much more than the horses ever will. Shooting a very pregnant horse in the head because it could not keep up, and leaving the foal to die inside the carcas, is such a huge case of animal abuse that I wish the taxpayers and citizens of this country would press suit against every BLM employee and contract employee of the BLM. I'm shocked, angry, sad, mad, and dejected that our animal welfare groups have not put a stop to this already.

These horses need to remain where they are,and to remain free.Yes,some of these horses have entered this area through escaping a fire,and human abandonment...but in the meantime they have bred,and maintained family units for many how is one to determine which horses are the so called original wild ones....I cannot even wrap my head around how the destruction of these herds/bands of horses,can be tolerated by in the heck can this even be ok ??? These are PUBLIC lands,and the PUBLIC wants wild horses running free as they were born to be.

Leave the wild horses to roam free.

Not sure why the government agencies think they need to "manage" the horses, mother nature will. They have obviously been there for years. This has to be a money issue!

Please let them stay and use them to get tourists to the state. Horses have been here since the beginning of time. I am planning a trip this year just to go and view the wild horses.

I'm so sick of these cattle ranchers commenting about wanting to shoot and kill these beautiful horses. These greedy welfare ranchers just want all the land, and unfortunately they have bought off the Forest Service and the BLM. These horses have thrived in the forest for hundreds of years, so clearly they don't need the government to "mange" them! These herds of horses are an important part of AZ history and they need to run free!

The Wild Horses of the American West have protection from the Wild Horse and Burro Act. I ask why is it that our Federal government does not have to follow the law. The Wild Horses help form America, read your history. In my opinion the federal government should be ashamed. Our Land, Our Horses, Our Decision. Leave the Wild Horses Wild and Free.

SPEECH OF HON. RAÚL M. GRIJALVA OF ARIZONA IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES WEDNESDAY, JUNE 6, 2007 ·Mr. GRIJALVA. Madam Speaker, I rise today to honor Arizona 's wild horses living in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests. · The residents of the State of Arizona deeply value these magnificent wild horses. These beautiful wild horses are truly the 'Living Symbols of the West,''' as described by the Wild Horse and Burro Act passed by Congress in 1971 to protect the wild horses of the United States . The Rim Country wild horses date back to mounts brought by Father Eusebio Kino, who began his 1653 mission to eastern Arizona by setting out from the lands of my constituency in southern Arizona and traveling across our State northeast to the 'borders of the lands of the Apacheria which border on New Mexico.' " These original Spanish horses are the great ancestors of the Mogollon Rim country wild horses. They were the mighty Andalusian war horse, whose origins go back more than 28,000 years to the original Iberian horse; the magnificent Spanish Barb; and the graceful and fluid Spanish Jennet, the mount of many of the great kings of Europe; and the strong bloodlines of these original horses appear almost unchanged in our Rim wild horses 400 years later. "Our Arizona Rim wild horses are the direct descendents of the Spanish horses prized by the conquistadors so highly that the foals were carried in hammocks to protect their legs until they were old enough to travel on the forced marches; and prized by the early cattlemen for their endurance and heart and were the very mounts of the U.S. Cavalry as they rode to protect and expand the American west. · The Arizona Rim Country wild horses living in Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests are a most precious natural resource to be preserved for our children and grandchildren who will be able to see them for generations to come."

Sure, Forest Service and BLM, round up all of the wild horses and ship them off to slaughter houses in Mexico. Be sure to go along for the "show", and take your cameras. You wouldn't want to miss the opportunity to show your children and grandchildren photographs of what a great thing you are responsible for. If the Forest Service and BLM can't figure out that there is more than enough land for the horses to roam as God intended, then they should seek other employment.

These animals are so majestic and are a symbol of freedom and everything that is good in our great country! They take my breath away every time I see them! They are good for their environment and definitely should be shown preference for staying over cattle since it is the horses natural territory. Cattle are the ones that should go if any but I have been out there a lot and there is plenty of room and resources for all the creatures. Don't let these animals be rounded up or killed! It would be an incredible injustice.

As I understand it these animals are protected under The Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 (Public Law 92-195) "wild free-roaming horses and burros" means all unbranded and unclaimed horses and burros on public lands of the United State. So it doesn't even matter what these horses heritage is as some argue. If they are living in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest and are not branded they are wild. Seems like that should be the end of the argument. They are protected by law.

My family and I have been camping in the Heber area for the past 30+ years and the cool summer weather at this 7500’ elevation is a welcome relief from the desert heat. One of our favorite activities is hiking in this beautiful forest, and often during a hike or just relaxing at camp we have encountered small groups of what I now know to be the “Heber Wild Horses” in their natural habitat. These magnificent creatures often graze through the area providing an opportunity to photograph them, study their habits, and observe how they interact with each other within their family structure. This is beauty in nature not found in an urban environment. When I first read about the US Forest Service planning to do a round-up of these horses my first question was Why? Are they detrimental to the area?...The answer of course is NO. After further study I found that these wild horses have a rich history having been brought to this area several hundred years ago from Spain by Padre Kino. (Much information on these wild horses is available through various websites). I was left to wonder what then was the purpose for the proposed round-up? After visiting several websites dedicated to the Heber Wild Horses I learned that these wild horses graze on US Forest Service land which is essentially owned by the public, and managed by the US Forest Service. The US Forest Service also leases a select number of grazing permits to cattle ranchers in the area that do not have sufficient private acreage to graze their cattle. It appears that some of these ranchers have complained to the Forest Service that the wild horses are competing with their cattle for the range grass and available water in this 20,000 plus acre forest area. (If the wild horses were removed more cattle grazing permits could be issued). These cattle ranchers seem to be very successful in influencing the US Forest Service to conduct studies to consider rounding-up and removing the wild horses from their 400 year natural habitat. So much so that the US Forest Service is in the process of securing bids to construct several miles of water lines, water tanks, holding pens, etc. in this area. It is clear that these proposed improvements are only intended to benefit these cattle ranchers. What I find particularly egregious is the fact that the cost for these improvements will be borne by the taxpayer, and little if any by the cattle ranchers who reap the windfall. This appears to be another case so often seen in politics today, where if enough influence is applied, the right lobbyist used, or with friends in the right places, you can push forward your agenda and steamroll the opposition no matter how disastrous the outcome. If left unchallenged, the Heber Wild Horses will be removed from their habitat (our land) by the US Forest Service, sold to slaughter houses, and/ or reduced to an unsustainable number that will ensure their eventual extinction, all for the profits of private enterprise. This is unconscionable . I urge you to support the efforts of these groups to preserve the Heber Wild Horses so that current and future generations can experience this true American treasure first hand. We are their lobbyist and their only voice.

In a country that seems hell-bent on putting an end to the american wild horse, it infuriates and saddens me that again, another "great idea" arises from the ashes to put more wild horses off their native lands. I am asking you to please reconsider this act and in stead, Remember how important these wild horses are and how important it is that they stay wild and free in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests. Most importantly, I ask you to bear in mind what an important part of Arizona's history they are. Don't jump on this runaway band wagon,to only be a prat of the eventual extinction of the American wild horse, a symbol of strength, freedom and the TRUE AMERICA!

It is nothing less than shameful what the BLM and USFS are attempting to do across the western states by decimating the wild horse/burro populations. The horses have been here for at least a century if not longer and have been protected by federal law as icons of America and the old west since laws were passed in 1971. It is the greed of "welfare" cattle ranchers who are spearheading the removal of the horses in favor of their cattle herds. By reducing the horse population on TAXPAYER SUPPORTED rangeland the ranchers plan to populate that very rangeland with their "for profit" cattle. It is our tax dollars that support and pay for the rights of the wild horse population to continue living free, wild and untethered by fences, corrals, holding pens, or prison yards. This is the land the ranchers propose to take away from our horses and use to make profits/money for themselves. I believe that if they have purchased more cattle than they can afford to feed and keep on the lands they have deed to they simply need to get rid of their excess. AS A TAX PAYER I AM NOT WILLING TO EXCHANGE OUR HORSES for free grazing cattle. I AM NOT WILLING TO support welfare ranchers with MY TAX DOLLARS, PERIOD but especially not at the expense of our horse population. It appears, however, that the BLM and USFS have "bought" into the lobbying efforts of these ranchers or are taking kickbacks from them, and are now advocating for and using terrifying helicopter roundups, introducing new "studies of range management" and other elimination practices to reduce the wild horse populations and rangeland acreage EVEN THOUGH IT VIOLATES FEDERAL LAW. In conclusion, I VEHEMENTLY object to those tax dollars designated for the protection of wild horses and burros to be used for any other purpose than intended and particularly NOT to put money in some cheapskate ranchers' pockets at the expense of the wild horse. WAKE UP BLM...USFS...get some kahunas and stand up to the cattle grazing groups. STAND YOUR GROUND as they say in us save this important part of the history of the wild west.


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