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Horse report presented to task force

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A group of horses stands on a ridge overlooking a residential area in Placitas. Residents estimate there are at least 100 unclaimed horses roaming freely around the foothills community and are divided on the best way to handle them. (Rosalie Rayburn/Albuquerque Journal)

A group of horses stands on a ridge overlooking a residential area in Placitas. Residents estimate there are at least 100 unclaimed horses roaming freely around the foothills community and are divided on the best way to handle them. (Rosalie Rayburn/Albuquerque Journal)

The organization Sandoval County hired to find acceptable ways for dealing with the unclaimed horses that roam around Placitas has presented a preliminary report to a task force of community residents and government representatives.

New Mexico First has given task force members a week to review the document and provide feedback, which will be incorporated in a final report that will contain recommendations, said Charlotte Pollard, New Mexico First Deputy Director.

After that, Placitas residents will have a chance to weigh in at a public forum from 9 a.m. to noon on May 3 at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church.

“We really are optimistic that this will help people come to conclusions and move forward in ways that are more harmonious,” Pollard said.

The horses – Placitas residents estimate there are at least 100 – have long been an emotionally charged and polarizing issue in the foothills community.

Some residents argue staunchly for the horses’ right to roam freely – the Wild Horse Observers Association has filed lawsuits seeking injunctions to prevent government agencies from removing them from Placitas.

Other residents worry that the growing horse population has outstripped the ability of the arid land to support it. They say the horses also pose a safety risk by wandering on the roads, and have begged Sandoval County officials, the state Livestock Board and other government agencies to intervene.

The county created the task force last year and hired New Mexico First in September to work with it to find solutions that would be acceptable to residents and government agencies.

The organization’s website, nmfirst.org, states, “We offer unique town halls and forums that create concrete, actionable recommendations for policymakers and the public.”

The draft report is the result of months of information-gathering and interviews with task force members. It covers topics such as what laws apply to the horses, methods and effectiveness of contraception, relocation and adoption, Pollard said.

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