Another meeting was held between the U.S. Forest Service and those wishing to block the removal of wild horses from along the Salt River northeast of Phoenix. Amy Done of the Salt River Wild Horses Management Group will tell us more.
TED SIMONS: The U.S. Forest Service is meeting with groups that want the agency to reverse its plans to remove horses from along Salt River northeast of Phoenix. Here with the latest is Amy Done with the Salt River Wild Horses Management Group.
AMY DONE: Thank you.
TED SIMONS: What is the latest in terms of any negotiations?
AMY DONE: Well, we have begun a -- dialogue with the Forest Service. We're very hopeful of a resolution that will keep the horses in the Tonto National Forest where they belong.
TED SIMONS: As far as the federal lawsuit. That's been put on hold, correct?
AMY DONE: Right.
TED SIMONS: Why did that happen?
AMY DONE: We're in negotiations with the Forest Service. I'm going to refer back to that.
TED SIMSON: Basically the idea is you're talking, so let's hold up until the talking stops.
AMY DONE: Right.
TED SIMONS: What position are you -- it's either the horses stay or the horses go, isn't it?
AMY DONE: It is. Let me tell you, we're offering the Forest Service a win-win, public-private partnership. And it's to humanely manage the horses to improve public safety, and also to improve the habitat in the Tonto National Forest. That's for the horses and for the public.
TED SIMONS: What would this entail? What's the idea here?
AMY DONE: What we have is -- we have a phenomenal idea that we're presenting and we're negotiating with the Forest Service. We're really proposing a very humane way to manage the horses keeping them in the Tonto national forest where they belong.
TED SIMONS: As far as being on hold, the judge thinks it could be settled in 60 days or so. You optimistic for that?
AMY DONE: We're cautiously optimistic.
TED SIMONS: What did the Forest Service plan to do with these horses?
AMY DONE: Honestly, to dispose of them. The Forest Service announced to the "Arizona Capitol Times" less than two weeks ago that they were going to round up and remove all of the free-roaming -- and untamed horses in the Lower Salt River. What they were going to do was they were going to collect them all, and they have to turn them over to the state of agriculture. They go to be sold at auctions, and if they are not they dispose of them.
TED SIMONS: I know the judge said it, they were doing this because they found that -- first of all, they called them stray horses. They don't call them wild. They call them feral and stray horses. Do they have a point there?
AMY DONE: No, absolutely not. We can document that those horses have been there for centuries. The Forest Service even knows, they have stated that they have been there for more than 80 years. Those horses are wild and they deserve to remain there.
TED SIMONS: The agency says they are a safety hazard. Is that a valid point?
AMY DONE: There has been no documented cases of humans being injured by horses.
TED SIMONS: What about people running into them with their vehicles?
AMY DONE: They also run into deer and squirrels and they do run into animals.
TED SIMONS: And yet the Feds say they do have authority over what they call stray and feral animals. It's their responsibility that if cars are hitting these things and if other concerns are out there, They have to do something with them. Again, do they have a valid point there?
AMY DONE: That's why we want to address -- that's why we're working with them to -- we have a humane management problem we're working with them on. That's what we wanted to emphasize. It's that these horses can remain in the Tonto National Forest safely, and we can do that.
TED SIMONS: Can you give us any particulars of your plan?
AMY DONE: I cannot.
TED SIMONS: You cannot? You guys are still talking.
AMY DONE: Right.
TED SIMONS: Would fencing be an idea you would think would be humane?
AMY DONE: Fencing is a fabulous idea. The wildlife management group has worked with the Tonto National Forest on fencing issues already.
TED SIMONS: That could be an option of your negotiations.
AMY DONE: Correct. And we have also worked with Maricopa County Department of Transportation. We have - The Salt River Wild Horses Management Group that has wild horse lanes put up along the bush highway.
TED SIMONS: And that's a major concern for the agency. I've heard that water has been shut off to certain areas, water shut off because the Feds were trying to get the horses to move. Is that true?
AMY DONE: We can't delegate that that is. There are parts of the Tonto National Forest that used to have plentiful water and those areas do not anymore.
TED SIMONS: And those are the areas where the horses used to congregate?
AMY DONE: Yes.
TED SIMONS: For those who say these horses are livestock, they are defended from livestock, they should be treated as livestock as opposed to wild, free roaming animals, you say?
AMY DONE: We say they are not. Those horses have been there for centuries. The Salt River Wild Horses Management Group have been documenting them for decades. We have a very scientific study of these horses and their migratory patterns, birth rates, death rates, you name it, we have it.
TED SIMONS: You have an equitable solution, you think?
AMY DONE: I know.
TED SIMONS: Does the Forest Service consider -- I mean, how far along are talks, are they listening, are you optimistic they may put into practice what you're proposing?
AMY DONE: Well, we are hopeful. We have just begun dialogue with them.
TED SIMONS: Is the dialogue going every day, once a week?
AMY DONE: It's going consistently.
TED SIMONS: Couple times a week?
AMY DONE: Yes -- no -- well, yes. We're in very close conversations, very close committees with the Forest Service.
TED SIMONS: And until those talks are done, nothing is going to happen to these horses?
AMY DONE: Correct.
TED SIMONS: All right. Thank you so much for joining us.
AMY DONE: Thank you, I appreciate it.
Amy Done : Salt River Wild Horses Management Group