PHOENIX — The Forest Service plans to capture, auction off and dispose of wild horses along the Salt River in Arizona.
“They’re going to kill them. That’s what disposed of means,” Simone Netherlands, head of the Salt River Wild Horses Management Group, told 12 News.
The Forest Service claims it’s not going to harm the horses.
“Horses are going to be slaughtered? Nothing could be further from the truth,” said Clay Templin of the Forest Service. “The horses will be inspected. People will have the opportunity to purchase the animals at auction.”
Even if the horses are safe, Netherlands said removing the animals would be detrimental to the area.
“There is no reason why the Forest Service should want to rob Arizona of this historically, economically and ecologically significant herd,” she said in a statement. “If the horses are rounded up, the Forest Service is making an historical mistake that cannot be reversed.”
The Forest Service asserts safety is the driving reason for the roundup.
“It’s just a matter of time before one of these animals goes through a windshield and kills a family or a small child will be trampled or kicked,” Templin said.
The removal of the horses was originally scheduled for Aug. 7 but a Forest Service representative said Monday it has no intentions to do so and has up to a year to finalize plans.
A petition is asking the Forest Service to cancel its removal plan. The request has 30,000 supporters.
KTAR’s Austen Browne contributed to this report.