Beloved Salt River Horse Herd In Jeopardy

The only foal of the Salt River herd-March 2023

Splendor, 2023’s only foal, lying in grass.

Deer grazing on abundant forage in Salt River horse habitat.

Pollution on the Lower Salt River

CBD Lawsuit Aims to Halt Humane Management of Famous Salt River Horse Herd.

The suing parties offer no proof of declining numbers of any species. Wildlife is thriving along the Lower Salt River. In fact, the only population that is declining is the horse population.”

— Simone Netherlands

SALT RIVER, ARIZONA, UNITED STATES, May 25, 2023/ — The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) is suing the Forest Service, citing environmental concern, for the beloved Salt River wild horse herd. However, the lower Salt River is visited by millions per year and thousands per day floating down the Salt River, as well as other recreational activities, causing  pollution and damage.

The public is outraged that the horses are being blamed by this lawsuit. (case number CV 23-715-PHX JAT filed in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona, Phoenix Division.) It seeks to halt the groundbreaking humane wild horse management programs.

The Salt River wild horse herd is one of the best managed herds in the United States, with a rescue program, a fencing program and a fertility control program. The only foal to the Salt River herd was just born this March and the public enthusiastically voted to name him “Splendor”. It is the humane management program for these horses, that has reduced the foaling rate, from 100 foals a year, to just one or two per year, so that the herd can stay in balance with the environment. This plan is consistent with decisions by a panel of stakeholders called the Salt River horse collaborative, in which the CBD had input.

The horses are a symbol of the American West and have been cherished by Americans and visitors from all corners of the world. People are outraged because they want to see and watch and photograph the popular wild horses and would not be able to, if this lawsuit led to removals.

The lawsuit claims that the Forest Service has failed to protect the environment. SRWHMG has said that, instead of blaming the horses, it would be more effective to look at how SRP water management has no clause for the environment. It would be more effective to look at year-round hunting, which disturbs all species. It would be more effective to look at how many people this forest can hold and sustain, perhaps increasing visiting costs. The Salt River wild horses only have access to 12 miles of the 200 mile long Salt River, and are not the ones ruining the environment.

The Forest Service has not yet commented on the lawsuit. However, they have said that they are committed to continuing the current management. The Salt River Wild Horse Management Group vows to intervene in this lawsuit to protect their interests of humanely managing the horses and the public’s interest to be able to enjoy the horses. 

Simone Netherlands, president of the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group concluded; “If CBD’s environmental concern was genuine, they would not attempt to halt a successful birth control program, as that would produce a larger and uncontrolled population of horses; It will be far better to stay the course of humanely managing the horses, and all organizations plus the Forest Service should work hard together to reduce and mitigate environmental damage and pollution of the lower Salt River.”

Link to the Complaint Against the Horses:

Link to the Long-Term Management Plan which refutes many of the lawsuits claims:

Link to footage of the Salt River Horses in their healthy habitat:

More footage of the Salt River wild horses can be found on Salt River Wild Horses-Advocates Facebook page.

Simone Netherlands
Salt River Wild Horse Management Group
+1 928-925-7212
email us here
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Salt River wild horses in their healthy environment

Originally published at