Judge Rules New Mexico Horses Not Wild

Judge Rules New Mexico Horses Not Wild

A judge ruled that horses roaming around Placitas, New Mexico, are not considered wild.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

A New Mexico judge has ruled that horses roaming the Placitas area of that state are not wild and that the New Mexico Livestock Board (NMLB) had the right to gather the animals last year.

Last summer, the NMLB gathered 50 horses from private property in Placitas at the request of area property owners. The Wild Horse Observers Association (WHOA) subsequently filed a complaint alleging that, by gathering the animals, the NMLB was unlawfully treating wild horses as estray livestock, court records said.

On July 16, Judge Valerie Huling ruled that WHOA “failed to demonstrate that the horses at issue were not estray livestock and that the (NMLB) acted outside of its authority.” In Huling's opinion, the NMLB had no obligation to treat the horses as wild and she ruled that the case be dismissed.

Ray E. Baca, NMLB executive director, welcomed the decision.

“Our agency is just abiding by state law and we will continue to do that,” Baca said.

Attorney Dave Reynolds, who represented 12 Placitas residents who were allowed to intervene in the case, said the NMLB gathers enhanced public safety and that the court ruling upheld an effective tool for managing the horse issue in the area.

Patience O'Dowd, WHOA president, said the group might appeal Huling's decision on grounds that the animals are wild, according to New Mexico state definition. Meanwhile, she said the horses are assets to the Placitas community: “People in Placitas love and support these wild horses, and (the horses) have helped our economy.”

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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