November 30, 2018 the Heber Wild Horse Territory Collaborative Working Group final recommendation was made public.
The Heber Wild Horse Territory Draft Management Plan states that the collaborative working group’s recommendations were taken into consideration by their integrated team of resource specialists from the Forest Service, Arizona Game and Fish Department, and the Arizona Department of Agriculture in drafting the management plan.
Associate professor in Arizona State University’s School of Sustainability, Michael Schoon headed the Collaborative Working Group. He is also the person who fired the Heber Wild Horses Freedom Preservation Alliance representative, Mary Hauser, from the working group stating she had “not been working in the spirit of the group”. About three years later a Courthouse News Service article revealed that Schoon himself did not agree with the management plan and would not promote it.
Forest Service plans to cull Arizona wild horse herd
Brad Poole / October 30, 2021
The management plan came after a two-year collaborative working group of stakeholders including horse advocates, scientists, multiple federal agencies and ranchers. Michael Schoon, an associate professor in Arizona State University’s School of Sustainability, headed that effort.
Schoon and the rest of the working group, which ended work about two years ago, declined to help promote the management plan, which he said isn’t adaptive enough and focuses too narrowly on the wild horse territory. That legally protected area is a small part of the herd’s natural range, Schoon said.
“We understood the reality of the Forest Service, that they couldn’t just expand that territory,” he said.
The fact is the area the Forest Service designated as the Heber Wild Horse Territory is too restrictive and not only does it not allow for the horses to roam throughout their natural range in search of forage, water, and shelter but it was not based on any official wild horse survey according to FOIA responses we received from the Forest Service. The Forest Service continues to use the 19,700 acres as the foundation for their “appropriate management level of 50 to 104 horses based on the resources available within the territory”. The initial culls will be with the intent to reduce the herd population to the low of 50 horses which is a non viable number.
Heber stallions Brave Warrior and Clyde. These stallions are among the majority of the herd that do not live within the area designated by the Forest Service as the Heber Wild Horse Territory. If the management plan is implemented they will be among those that are culled.