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Navajo Nation Feral Horse Hunt Cancelled

Paul Gorbould
Creative Commons

The Navajo Nation has canceled a horse hunt that was planned for the Carrizo Mountains near Teec Nos Pos in Arizona, but the nation’s feral-horse problem remains. The hunt had been given a green light earlier this month by the Navajo Department of Fish and Wildlife but was canceled Monday. The nation said the agency would pursue other options. The tribe says as many as 50,000 feral horses roam the reservation, many concentrated in remote and rugged locations. A single horse reportedly requires about 10 gallons of water and 32 pounds of forage a day.

In a statement, Vice President Jonathan Nez said the horses exacerbate existing problems with overgrazing and harm both livestock and native wildlife. He called on Navajo citizens to offer suggestions. The Farmington Daily-Times reports the hunt would have allowed the killing of up to 60 non-branded horses in the Carrizos, but it prompted an outcry. However, some people say a hunt would be more humane than the previous practice of rounding up animals and shipping them to Mexico for slaughter. The nation stopped doing that in 2013.

In a statement, Navajo President Russell Begaye said, “We know the issue of horses is an emotional one.” He said though his administration would not condone a hunt, some management plan is needed. Possible solutions include birth control, castration, and adoptions, but all are costly and time-consuming.

Gail Binkly is a career journalist who has worked for the Colorado Springs Gazette and Cortez Journal, and was the editor of the Four Corners Free Press, based in Cortez.
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