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Advocates return wild horses to herd

RUIDOSO – Members of the wild horse herd of Alto rounded up in 2016 were released over the weekend in the area they have freely roamed.

The decision of a district court judge mandated the return of the horses and redefined the jurisdiction of the New Mexico Livestock Board.

Patience O’Dowd, president of the Wild Horse Observers Association, who filed the legal action resulting in the return of the horses, said loading the horses that had been roaming free on a ranch near Carrizozo wasn’t a problem. By the third load, she was convinced the remaining horses knew where they were headed and wanted to go home. They nearly jumped into the trailer, she said.

A stallion and five mares were browsing in a yard on Monday that had been one of their favorites, O’Dowd said.

She said her biggest concern now are trucks and larger vehicles that seem to want to endanger the horses. She was told have been clocked at up to 102 mph. Advocates are convinced digital speed signs would alert drivers and cause them to slow down.

“This is a safety corridor and fines for speeding are double,” she said. “We are asking that police monitor speed on N.M. 48 in Alto this week at dusk and during the night. So watch your speed, guys. It’s always lawbreakers who have hurt these wild horses.”

O’Dowd is urging residents to call the District 2 office of the state Department of Transportation and ask for digital speed signs for the safety of the horses, cyclists, dogs, elk, deer and others endangered by speeders on N.M. 48 in the Alto area.

Local residents monitored the horses the first night, and O’Dowd and others were out the second night.

Two horses were hit by vehicles, but they were not members of the newly released herd, she said. Both walked away and she said she had seen one of them running, apparently not bothered by scratches on its shoulder and leg. The collisions were not caused by being blinded by car lights of advocates, she said. A police report on the incident was filed.

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