For Immediate Release
Aug. 13, 2015
Jenni Barnes, staff attorney, FoA’s Wildlife Law Program 720.949.7791;
Mike Harris, director, Wildlife Law Program; 720.949.7791;


Friends of Animals files lawsuit to stop Salt River wild horse roundup 

(ARIZONA)—Friends of Animals (FoA) has filed a lawsuit against the United States Forest Service (USFS) to stop the round-up and permanent removal of wild horses in Tonto National Forest in Arizona. 

The lawsuit states that USFS’ July 31 notice, which classifies wild horses in the Tonto National Forest as “unauthorized livestock” and authorizes their “impoundment”— they could be auctioned off, sold privately or disposed of—violated the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act (WHBA) because the agency did not make any determination there were excess horses that needed to be removed. 

The defendants also failed to fulfill their obligations under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to prepare any environmental analysis or Environmental Impact Statement, and completely failed to involve the public in its decision-making process prior to issuing the Impoundment Notice.

The lawsuit also states that contrary to the USFS’s claims, there is documentation that these wild horses, known as the Salt River wild horses, were in the area long before passage of the WHBA in 1971, which means they should be protected under the law.

“Calling these wild horses ‘unauthorized livestock’ is just plain wrong as these horses have been there for over a century,” said Jenni Barnes, staff attorney for FoA’s Wildlife Law Program. “Not only is it reckless to allow them to be auctioned off for slaughter, it’s unlawful.”  

“It defies logic that the Forest Service insists on violating the WHBA by assailing beloved wild horses in Tonto National Forest – dismissing and undermining them as ‘unauthorized livestock,’” said Priscilla Feral, president of Friends of Animals. “This assures they’d be slaughtered, a horrifying notion considering there’s no evidence whatsoever that their disposal is justified.”


Friends of Animals, an international animal protection organization founded in 1957, advocates for the rights of animals, free-living and domestic around the world.