Obviously unphazed by the passage of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act and the designation of the Heber Wild Horse Territory the Forest Service continued on in their attempt to eliminate unbranded, unclaimed horses in the Sitgreaves. The Forest Service had written agreements with local ranchers to capture horses that were in specific cattle allotments. Some of the agreements included pastures that overlapped the designated Heber Wild Horse Territory. Agreements stated the rancher would be paid $100.00 for each horse captured and $2.00 per day for feed pending disposal by the Forest Service. The horses were then sold at public auction without limitation.
A 1974 Range Inspection Report that we obtained through a FOIA request revealed horses in the Black Mesa Ranger District had been captured and sold at public auction that year. That was just months after the establishment of the Heber Wild Horse Territory which was supposed to protect wild horses as mandated under the 1971 Act. From the same FOIA request we received numerous written agreements between the Forest Service and public lands ranchers for the capture of free-roaming horses during the 1980s and into the 1990s. The FOIA response also produced numerous invoices from Valley Livestock Auction where the captured horses had been sold. The final memo we received from the FOIA request was dated March 10, 1994. It was sent to the ranch owner and cc’d to the local ranch manager. It instructed the rancher to remove horses from one of the grazing units in “hopes to eliminate” horses that were observed. It came from Kate Klein who was the Forest Service District Ranger.