SALT RIVER, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -
With champagne in hand, the volunteers with the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group chanted and cheered on Monday.
"We are not just celebrating New Year’s today, we are celebrating that we preserved a true piece of Arizona history," said Simone Netherlands from the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group.
The Salt River wild horses are officially protected.
"They are protected from harassment, from shooting. They are protected from someone causing them any injury and protected from slaughter," said Netherlands.
If anyone is caught doing any harm to the horses, they will face a misdemeanor charge.
"I think everyone is thrilled at this that they get to stay," said state Rep. Kelly Townsend, R-Mesa.
The group, along with Rep. Townsend have spent two and a half years working with the Governor’s Office, the U.S. Forest Service and the Arizona Agriculture Department.
"It was a long drawn out effort and so such pleasure to finally be done with it and start to move forward with management," said Townsend.
The next step is to work with a nonprofit on humanely managing the horses.
The Salt River Wild Horse Management Group hopes they will be chosen to do so.
"So glad future generations will see these amazing historic animals that have been here for hundreds of years," said Netherlands.
"If there's [sic] the seven wonders of Arizona our horses would at least be in the top three," said Townsend.