FARMINGTON – The Navajo Nation has canceled a planned wild horse hunt aimed at thinning a herd in an Arizona area after opponents of the hunt organized a protest against it.
The tribe’s Division of Natural Resources rescinded on Monday a proclamation declaring the 2018 feral horse management hunt designed to remove 60 horses from the Carrizo Mountains in northeastern Arizona, according to a notice on the Navajo Nation Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website.
Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye said in a statement that the hunt will be postponed and the proclamation was rescinded to allow for public input and education, the Farmington Daily Times reported .
There are more than 38,000 feral horses on Navajo Nation land, according to a 2016 study conducted by the Navajo Fish and Wildlife Department.
Horse advocates, including members of the Facebook group Indigenous Horse Nation Protector Alliance, organized a rally for Friday in Window Rock, Arizona, to protest the hunt.
Gloria Tom, the director of Navajo Nation Department of Fish and Wildlife, said the public outcry led to the cancellation.
Navajo Nation Speaker LoRenzo Bates said in a statement that his office was not aware that the executive branch had made a decision to issue permits for hunting feral horses.
“As Navajo people, we are taught to respect all life forms and that includes horses,” Bates said. “Considering the cultural and historical factors and concerns over water shortages and overgrazing – this is certainly an issue that should have been brought before Navajo leadership and medicine people to discuss and consider.”
If the hunt had not been rescinded, hunters accompanied by wildlife conservation officers would have been able to kill non-branded horses that were at least two years old. Hunters would have been prohibited from killing mares with foals.
The proclamation called for removing up to 60 horses over a six-day period.
Begaye urged Navajo chapters to pass resolutions to address feral horse management in their regions. Begaye said the division of natural resources will put in place a horse management strategy.
“Implementation of this plan is required to ensure a sustainable future while preserving the land and natural resources that sustain Navajo tradition and culture,” Begaye said.