Red Desert Band of Wild Horses

Tribe, Robert Redford group OK wild horse plans regarding slaughter


FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) – The Navajo Nation and a group founded by former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and actor Robert Redford said Thursday they have agreed on a plan to manage thousands of wild horses on the reservation and keep the animals from being sent to slaughter houses.

The memorandum of agreement calls for adoptions, triages, veterinarian services, sanctuaries and funding to feed the animals. Richardson said it will result in a long-term, humane solution to an overpopulation of horses on the vast, remote reservation that has few financial resources.

Navajo President Ben Shelly reversed his support for a return to domestic horse slaughter and halted wild horse roundups on the reservation after meeting with Richardson last October. He said Thursday that horses are sacred to the Navajo people and must be managed responsibly.

Critics of the roundups on the Navajo Nation had complained that the tribe ran down horses to the point of injury, separated mares from foals and took domestic horses from their owners. Off the reservation, public outcry over alleged abuse during roundups of thousands of mustangs prompted the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to issue new policy directives emphasizing compassion and concern for wild horses on federal lands in the West.

The Navajo Nation has estimated that some 75,000 feral horses are drinking wells dry and causing ecological damage to the drought-stricken range – a figure that has been questioned as being too high. The tribe was rounding up and selling horses, knowing that some likely would make their way to horse slaughter plants south of the border.

Under the agreement with the Foundation to Protect New Mexico Wildlife, the Navajo Nation no longer will make public statements in support of horse slaughter. The tribe said it will stop sending horses to slaughter facilities or selling them to people who do after sufficient money is obtained for a humane horse management program. The agreement does not list a dollar amount or a timeframe, but Richardson said “we look forward to getting right to work.”

Two Navajo groups said that management approach was unacceptable because it continues to allow for horse slaughter as a way to manage herds. The groups said they will be watching closely to ensure that Navajos’ cultural and traditional ties to horses are reflected in any management plan.

The tribe isn’t currently conducting roundups, according to its Department of Agriculture. Read more >>

7 thoughts on “Tribe, Robert Redford group OK wild horse plans regarding slaughter”

  1. I saw this last week coming from Animal Welfare Institute. I lived in AZ for 18 years and the climate is almost identical to what is in New Mexico and there is no way that there is 75,000 horses on any of these reservations. For one thing there is not enough grazing to sustain that many horses and without grazing the horses do not breed as often as they would in better environments. Take my word for it it’s dry out there and hot as hell. Tourists are warned that if they plan to drive around the back roads for photo shoots or anything else to take plenty of water because there is none out there.
    I think this is the right direction for the tribes to go in, they may be able to sell some of these horses to folks that want a Indian horse because that may be a good selling point.


    1. I traveled extensively on the Navajo reservation for 10 years and 75,000 horses would starve there. There isn’t enough food to sustain 7500 horses.

      Another problem with the previous policy was the gathering of horses that were owned by friends of mine. One friend lost 8 and others lost more.

      I certainly agree with your post.


  2. I hope that their efforts are being fueled by their concern for the horses and not just out of pressure from horse slaughter opponents. Either way, I’m glad that they are planning to manage them in a much more humane way. :)


  3. 75,000 feral horses on the “vast, remote reservation”??? That’s a lot of horses.

    In this part of the country, I think the term feral is applied to mustangs as well as other untamed/unclaimed/free-running horses. So, this number must include ALL the remaining 30,000 mustangs under BLM “care” plus a whole bunch more that were let loose to rampantly reproduce.

    For some reason, the math seems just a bit off. But it usually is in these matters.


  4. Please correct me if I am Wrong, feral is an animal that cannot be trained or domesticated????? Which is simply not the case with Wild Mustangs !!!!!! They have been called Wild Mustangs since forever so that is what they are !!!!!!


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