US Parks Service: Hold Your Horses On Roundup In Tonto National Forest
The Tonto National Forest is backing off on a plan to round up dozens of wild equine.
In a statement, Tonto supervisor Neil Bosworth said they will take another approach to managing the growing population of strays in the forest.
Despite a separate legal notice indicating it was imminent as soon as Friday, U.S. Forest Service spokesperson Carrie Templin said an actual roundup was never being considered.
“The Forest Service was never intending to start gathering horses today, we hadn’t even gotten a contractor," she said. "Based on public outcry and interest, we will continue to meet with our partners and our neighbors and try and find some resolution.”
Templin said they were overwhelmed with feedback from those worried about the horses’ well being and there was never any intention to harm them.
“I don’t think we’ve been able to listen to all of the concerns yet because our phones are still ringing off the hook," she said.
Legal attempts by animal rights activists to halt the roundup were denied by a federal court on Thursday.
Templin said the Forest Service will look into alternative plans to manage the strays, but that the wild horses still present a danger to Tonto visitors.
“It is a very tough position to be in where these horses have moved on to the forest, they’re not part of a designated wild horse territory, so the Forest Service doesn’t believe it has the ability to manage them in any capacity," Templin said.
Horse advocates say they will proceed with a lawsuit against the Forest Service, with a hearing scheduled for next week.