Nation’s Largest Wild Horse Protection Urges No Vote on NM Legislation that Authorizes Livestock Board to Remove Wild Horses from the Range
Santa Fe, NM (February 26, 2019) … The American Wild Horse Campaign today urged members of the New Mexico House of Representatives to vote no on Senate Bill 158, which would put the anti-wild horse New Mexico Livestock Board in charge of wild horses, and authorize it to remove wild horses from the range.
“SB 158, as currently written, would result in the end of free-roaming wild horses in New Mexico," said Suzanne Roy, Executive Director of the American Wild Horse Campaign. “We know where the Livestock Board stands on the issue of wild horses. Putting decisions about the fate of free-roaming wild horses into the Livestock Board's hands will spell disaster for New Mexico's wild herds.”
The bill, which applies to all wild horses in the state not covered by the federal Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, contains some amendments that prohibit “euthanasia” for population control. However, it allows the Board to remove horses from the range if they are placed in public or private wild horse preserves or adopted into private homes. AWHC is concerned about the ultimate fate of horses removed from the range under the proposed law, since no wild horse preserves currently exist, and the number of adoptive homes for wild, untamed horses is limited.
“The safest place for a wild horse is in the wild with its family band,” said Sharon Eliashar, AWHC’s New Mexico Chapter representative and Santa Fe filmmaker and educator, who said mitigation measures such as fencing, highway safety improvements, diversionary feeding and relocation within horses’ home ranges should be employed to resolve public safety and private land conflicts. Eliashar said that removal should only take place as a last resort.
“In addition to being one of North America's oldest native wildlife species, wild horses are a defining symbol of the West", said Eliashar, whose film, Return of the Horse, covered the subject. "These state treasures must be protected and humanely managed in their natural habitat.”
SB 158 passed the Senate last week and is waiting to be scheduled in the House State Government, Elections & Indian Affairs Committee. It will then go on to the Judiciary Committee before a floor vote. AWHC said that it would like an agency without conflicts of interest to be in charge of wild horses in New Mexico. AWHC is asking the House to table SB 158 so that stakeholders can come together to develop legislation that would both protect wild horses and address public safety and private property concerns.
The bill would affect several wild horse populations in New Mexico, including those in Sandoval and Lincoln Counties. It would not apply to several small herds protected under federal law and managed by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service, nor would it apply to wild horses on tribal land. In 2015, the New Mexico Court of appeals ruled that wild horses in New Mexico were not estray livestock under state law.
The American Wild Horse Campaign is the nation’s leading wild horse protection organization, with more than 700,000 supporters and followers nationwide, including more than 2,000 New Mexico members.
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