As time went on it became more and more apparent who the enemies of the Heber wild horses were. The public lands ranchers appeared to be a driving force pushing for the removal and even the slaughter of the wild horses living in the Sitgreaves National Forest.
Heber Wild Horses: Legendary Or Problematic?
KNAU News Talk - Arizona Public Radio | By Aaron Granillo
Published June 5, 2015
In his own lifetime – 57-years – Gibson’s seen the wild horse population increase exponentially. He pays the Forest Service about $1,600 a month for grazing rights, and feels he’s not getting his money’s worth. Gibson believes there’s one solution to protect livelihood and land.
“So in my opinion, the best thing to with these up here would be remove every one of them. [Heber wild horses] Whether they go to adoption, or, you know, I hate to say it, euthanized or to a slaughter plant," Gibson says. "I mean that sounds kind of harsh, but something has to be done with them.”
This interview gives the impression that Mr. Gibson was the ranch and grazing lease owner at the time. In fact he was not. He was the ranch manager. Therefore it doesn’t add up that "he" paid for the grazing rights and "he" wasn’t getting “his money’s worth”. As for the population increase, based on numbers by the Forest Service the herd size has remained relatively stable using their estimates from 2005 to the present. Overpopulation of the Heber herd has never been proven.
Arizona Game and Fish Department Director Larry Voyles had recommended killing healthy wild horses. He didn’t specify the Heber herd, just wild horses in general.
Arizona agency lobbies for wild horse euthanasia
Posted on Sep 3, 2010 by Tuesday's Horse
Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD), is recommending the Bureau of Land Management euthanize healthy excess wild horses and burros as a management alternative.
In a letter addressed to BLM director Bob Abbey, AZGFD Director Larry Voyles states, “In order to have a truly open dialogue and consideration for all viable management alternatives, the BLM should reconsider the inclusion of two options, which have been identified as “off the table” for the development of the new draft strategy: 1) euthanasia of healthy excess animals, and 2) their sale without limitation.”
Larry Voyles announced his retirement from the AZGFD in 2017.