Monday, February 6, 2023


This wonderful place in Arizona is a bucket list destination for animal lovers

If you love animals and nature, you must visit the Salt River Wild Horse Sanctuary in the Tonto National Forest near Phoenix, Arizona. It’s a bucket list destination for all animal lovers. You can get somewhat up close and personal with these majestic creatures – more than 180 of the roam all around you. They’ve been in this habitat since well before the Tonto National Forest was created in 1902.

We visited these majestic creatures last spring during the drought months and watched volunteers in the management group supplement their natural food, supported entirely by donations. This is an experience all children should partake in that can’t be taught in a classroom.

Guide volunteers passed along information about the herd’s behavior characteristics. I’m standing approximately 30 feet from these beauties.

What?! Mass euthanasia?!

As the story goes, on July 14, 2015, the U.S. Forest Service posted an impound notice to remove or otherwise dispose of these majestic creatures within seven days. When the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group got wind of this, they kicked themselves into high gear and contacted thousands of media outlets, held rallies, lobbied legislators and filed a lawsuit. Their efforts did not go unnoticed. In conjunction with their attorneys and the American Wild Horse Campaign, discussions ensued.

Public outcry ensued

Immediately, public outcry reacted in every means possible and bombarded the Forest Service. Negotiations continued and the U.S. Forest Service acquiesced to a 120-day stay of execution of their impound notice. Arizonians spoke up and the legislators bestowed the horses a “voice to be heard.”

Since the herd’s food source is geographically limited, during last spring’s drought, donations helped the SRWHMG supplement their feed to maintain a healthy herd.

Their voices were heard

Just shy of Christmas in 2015, the Forest Service completely rescinded their impound and removal notice. Thereafter, the Arizona state legislators, with support from Governor Ducey, created a bill to protect this long-lived herd, further making harassing them illegal. Additionally, a codifying measure to promote proper herd management was sanctioned for their healthy survival.

The SRWHMG ensure the health and safety of the breeding mares for each yearly cycle. Photo Credit: SRWHMG

Modern-day management of the wild herd

Since the wild herd thrives surrounded by civilization, limiting their food supply contained therein, it is necessary to humanely manage the herd’s population. The herd’s growth is managed by PZP (Porcine Zona Pelucida) an immuno-contraception administered by darting the mares. This high-tech birth control does not hinder the mare’s hormones or their reproductive behavior and interactive dynamics amongst the horses. The goal of this management policy ensures each horse born in the wild can live out their life entirely in this natural habitat.

To thank Governor Ducey for this support, the first colt born in 2017 was named “Ducey”. This organization is worthy of a visit when in south-central Arizona, less than a half-hour from Phoenix. You will thoroughly enjoy watching the rivalry among the young colts while the stallions guard their mares with newborns. It’s an experience everyone will cherish.

Visit their website and watch the videos

Visit the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group’s website and plan to visit this bucket list destination when in Arizona. Even watching the videos or adopting a newborn is a worthy project for kids. Consider donating or volunteering for this worthy cause.

Kate Doherty has been writing for more than 30 years in technical, medical and general media. In her previous business, she and her spouse dealt with special projects within the military/government sector. Recently she published Masquerade: A Logan Scott Novel under the pen name Bryan Alexander, a thriller now available in eBook and paperback on Amazon. It’s a page-turner.



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Thomas D
1 year ago

Unfortunately yesterday they announced another 3 wild horses were shot bringing the total in ( i think) 3years to 30 horses shot and killed. No mention of any shot and wounded This in the tonto national forest near Heber were the campground being built by Michelle and AJ that we read about on RV travel .
Hope they find the perpetrators soon

Tommy Molnar
1 year ago

My state (NV) is awash with wild horses. Until last year when our city put up a fence line near where they would come down out of the surrounding mountains, we would have 10-20 (or more) of them cruising down our street, stomping on our irrigation systems causing big buck damage. Also, in their quest for ‘fresh eats’ they would crush lawn decorations and anything else that just happened to be sitting there. Everyone loves to see these mostly beautiful animals, but are not fans of the damage they do. When we’re out in the middle of the state it’s wonderful to see a herd of them galloping across the landscape leaving a dust trail that is most impressive. But “NIMBY” applies here.

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