Navajo Nation eyes agreement reining in the slaughter of wild horses

Navajo wild mare and foal. ScenicAperture.com.
Navajo wild mare and foal. ScenicAperture.com.

Report via Reuters »

By LAURA ZUCKERMAN
June 5, 2015

The first effort of its kind to prevent wild horses roaming the Navajo Nation in the U.S. Southwest from being sent to slaughter in Mexico has gained the preliminary approval of tribal leaders, former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson said on Thursday.

Under a draft agreement that still must be reviewed by the tribe, a foundation established by Richardson and actor Robert Redford would provide funds and expertise to the Navajo Nation to halt reservation roundups that have seen thousands of wild horses shipped to slaughterhouses in Mexico.

The impact of intensive grazing by wild horses in a high-desert reservation that spans roughly 27 square miles (70 sq km) of New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah has been compounded by drought and led to competition with livestock for sparse vegetation, said Rick Abasta, spokesman for Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye.

The roundups by the nation’s agriculture department and the fate of the captured animals has ignited controversy among the tribe’s more than 300,000 enrolled members, including wild horse advocates, Abasta said.

The issue has divided a tribal nation whose economy relies in part on free-range cattle and sheep but which also reveres horses.

“The Navajo elders have a saying which translates into English as ‘Our horses are sacred,'” said Abasta.

“Our main objective is to stop the roundups and stop the horse slaughter,” said Richardson, who said Redford is a fellow horse enthusiast who owns a home in New Mexico.

Richardson said the agreement would first seek to identify the number of wild horses on the reservation, where estimates have ranged from several thousand to more than 70,000.

If ultimately approved, the deal, which proposes such methods as birth control to keep wild herds in check, would be the first of its kind on Indian lands and perhaps in the nation, he said.

“The Navajos are the biggest tribe in the country. If we strike an agreement here, it will set an example for other tribes that still slaughter,” Richardson said.

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• See also Navajo officials renegotiating wild horse agreement; The New Mexican; June 2, 2015

9 thoughts on “Navajo Nation eyes agreement reining in the slaughter of wild horses”

  1. Unfortunately, as the BLM and other groups/ individuals are clearly whoring themselves to the cattle industry and factory farmers, we have no choice but to target our political leaders en mass. I have called, sent emails, written letters to the BLM, but I suspect that contacting our reps/senators, etc. on a individual level will be the more effective action. We may not have $ but we do have numbers. Also, (& I know I am not going to win any fans here) go vegetarian ! Hit the ranching and factory farming industry where it hurts ! In the bottom line ! I promise you that you won’t die ; )

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    1. You may have more support than you expect on the go veggie front. Great idea for everybody; fun and tasty too. And would resolve so many issues. Thank you.

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  2. as you know the premarin market is deemed to be unnatural and unsafe for a woman to use . why have the indian nations lowered their standards to killing more horses? for more money?

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    1. I had the opportunity to use premarin but refused when I learned how it was obtained and you know what ? I did just fine. (Now everyone knows how old I am ; )

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  3. I lived in AZ for 20 years which is right next door to New Mexico and believe me there is not 70,000 horses on that reservation. For one thing they would starve to death before they could be counted in that number. That whole area is dry in the summer except for monsoon season. When I left AZ the monsoons had all but stopped and to me these states were already moving into a drought. These horses actually need some hay given to them from the looks of the mare and foal at the top of this page. If the mare can’t produce enough milk the foal will die. I can’t see where anyone running cattle on this land or any other in AZ or New Mexico could make any money off of cows without having to feed them.

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  4. finally the voice of reason prevails on behalf of the wild horses . and really could the count of these horses be 70,000 . I doubt it but to say hopeful . and what about Robert Redford backing birth control for these animals,doesn’t that say something for this practice. I am so on the ropes . I want to help w/h/b but with the conflicting opinions , it has gotten right down hateful to have any opinion . I just want them to be saved from all the haters out there. I want the s.a.f.e. act passed and the soring horses to stop. I want the racing community to become more responsible and the throw away babies to quit. I want congress to respect the taxpayers request to quit with ag-gag rules . I also want just the general abuse of animals to just stop . just a general respect will do quite nicely and go a long ways in the care of animals. because they are people, too .

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    1. Birth control is acceptable. There is a lot of misinformation about PZP, but it has been used for a long time on many species without the negative effects being speculated upon by opponents. I would certainly oppose surgical sterilization, which would of course change herd behavior and be risky in the field. Also doubt those high numbers.

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    2. I could not agree more strongly and have contacted my reps repeatedly re: the SAFE act and AG-Gag legislation. Again, we may not have a lot of money, but we still have a voice !

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