(March 24, 2021) Advocates are breathing a sigh of relief after a dangerous wild horse bill in the New Mexico Senate (SB385), introduced by State Senators Pat Woods and Brenda McKenna, died when the 2021 legislative session ended without the legislation being heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
AWHC was monitoring this bill closely and prepared to launch grassroots opposition if it had advanced.
SB285 (Wild Horse Management) posed a direct threat to the continued free-roaming existence of New Mexico’s wild horses. Among its harmful provisions:
- Designating the New Mexico Livestock Board (NMLB), an entity that lacks qualifications and expertise and has a history of hostility to wild horses, as the sole authority to make determinations that affect the survivability of wild horses in New Mexico.
- Creating a mechanism for the NMLB to remove all state New Mexico wild horses from their natural habitat, with minimal requirements and no oversight.
- Allowing removals, with livestock board approval, to be initiated by any political subdivision, possibly extending such powers to small road maintenance and water districts instead of fairly representing the broader public interest in wild horse management.
- Unnecessarily limiting individuals who are qualified to conduct a carrying capacity study to those with degrees related to the livestock industry and thereby excludes wild horse experts and individuals with other relevant experience.
- Removing all private property from consideration as “wild horse range” and requires a landowner to make a formal affirmative request to have their private property included as range, which will likely result in the loss of most wild horse habitat in the state.
- Placing no restrictions on capture and removal methods, paving the way for inhumane helicopter roundups to be used.
- Placing no restrictions on population control methods, allowing for the use of brutal surgical sterilization techniques.
We understand that there are issues to be addressed to better protect wild horses in New Mexico that do not fall under federal jurisdiction, however, SB285 would have been a giant step backward. AWHC has offered to work with New Mexico legislators and other stakeholders over the coming months to develop humane legislation to manage the state’s cherished, and few remaining wild horse herds. We will keep all of our supporters in New Mexico and beyond informed of progress on this issue.