Apache Sitgreaves National Forest Sends 50 Arizona Wild Horses to Texas Slaughter Auction

Horses to be sold on Sunday, leaving no time for rescue groups to save them

Phoenix, AZ (December 1, 2023)--  In a shocking betrayal of public trust and an affront to the welfare of cherished Arizona wild horses, the Apache Sitgreaves National Forest yesterday callously transported 50 beloved Alpine wild horses to a Texas slaughter auction. This act prevents rescue groups from intervening, as the horses are set to be sold on Sunday at an in-person sale in Texas.

The Salt River Wild Horse Management Group (SRWHMG) and the American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) today condemned the Forest Service for this blatant disregard for the welfare of these beloved horses and the public’s interest in protecting them. 

The 50 horses arrived this morning at the Bowie Livestock Auction, located in Bowie, TX  after being captured by Forest Service contractor Rail Lazy H. The action is part of an ongoing effort to eliminate the entire wild horse population from the Alpine Ranger District in the Apache Forest.

The group includes multiple family units, some with young foals that have been separated from their mothers. The horses are survivors of a brutal massacre that occurred in October of last year. 

Previously, the Forest Service had sold the captured horses through public auctions in Arizona or online. Over the last two years, the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group and allies successfully purchased and relocated 270 of these horses to homes and sanctuaries through these auctions. However, in July 2023, Rail Lazy H arbitrarily prohibited the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group and its allies from participating in these public auctions. 

The recent move bypassed local or online auctions entirely. Instead, the Alpine wild horses were sent directly to Texas, into the hands of the Bowie Livestock Auction. This auction is known to be operated by individuals identified as kill buyers, who routinely transport truckloads of horses to Mexico for slaughter for human consumption.

"The Apache Sitgreaves Forest has not only forsaken the welfare of these innocent beings but has also demonstrated an alarming disregard for public sentiment. By relocating the horses to Texas,  they have severed any lifeline to safety that we or other rescue groups might have offered. This is an appalling betrayal of the trust placed in the Forest Service as public servants," Simone Netherlands, president of the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group said.

“The direct shipment of the 50 Alpine wild horses to a Texas kill pen marks an escalation in the unconscionable attempts by the Forest Service and its contractor to thwart the rescue of these innocent wild horses," said Suzanne Roy, Executive Director of the American Wild Horse Campaign. "It is imperative that the Forest Service be held accountable for actively funneling wild horses into the slaughter pipeline, despite the strong desire of the public to safeguard these historic animals. This appalling outcome was entirely avoidable and should never have happened."

Two years ago, Netherlands’ organization had offered to implement a humane fertility control program at no cost to taxpayers to preserve the Alpine wild horses and manage the population numbers in the Forest without removals. After the Forest Service rejected that offer and proceeded with capture operations, the  Salt River Wild Horse Management Group and its allies have tirelessly strived to rescue and rehome captured Alpine wild horses.

About the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group

The Salt River Wild Horse Management Group (SRWHMG) is an Arizona non-profit organization dedicated to protect, monitor, and humanely manage the Salt River wild horses. The SRWHMG has secured agreements and protections for this iconic and beloved wild horse herd in the Tonto National Forest and the group partners with the State of Arizona for the day-to-day management of the herd, including a highly successful fertility control program that has stabilized population growth within its first two years. 

About the American Wild Horse Campaign

The American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) is the nation's leading wild horse conservation organization, with more than 700,000 supporters and followers nationwide. AWHC is dedicated to preserving the American wild horse and burros in viable, free-roaming herds for generations to come, as part of our national heritage. In addition to advocating for the protection and preservation of America's wild herds, AWHC implements the largest wild horse fertility control program in the world through a partnership with the State of Nevada for wild horses that live in the Virginia Range near Reno.