After more than a decade of heated debates, the Sandoval County Commission seemingly put an end to the issue of wild horses in Placitas by voting in favor of two measures setting new rules for who can feed the horses.
An ordinance making it illegal for residents to feed the horses and a resolution that established a permitting process for third parties to feed the horses safely, with only nonprofit organizations eligible for the permit, each passed by a vote of 4-1 Wednesday night.
The commissioners voted 3-2 against the ordinance at the March 22 meeting.
Commissioner Jay Block was the lone vote against the ordinance and the resolution at the Wednesday meeting. Commission Chairman Dave Heil and Commissioner Michael Meek each flipped their vote from the March 22 meeting.
The feeding of horses has been a longstanding issue for people in the community. Many things have been tried to control the horse population in Placitas, including the use of porcine zona pellucida. PZP is a fertility-control vaccine given to female horses through an injection via remote darting.
Another issue that has been raised has been the danger concerns for motorists and horses on N.M. 165 near mile marker 4, where horses have been hit by vehicles and fed by people in that area.
At the April 12 meeting, Deputy County Manager John Garcia and Sandoval County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Chief Allen Mills presented a “motion to approve the publication of an ordinance to ban the general public from feeding certain wildlife within the Sandoval County Area.” The revised ordinance would establish a permitting process for third parties to feed the horses safely.
“The bottom line: Why are we doing this? It is for public safety,” Garcia said. “We as a government know that there’s a risk and have a responsibility to address the risk. There’s a concern for general safety in the community. The situation does require a solution both short and long term. Our only thing we’re doing in the short term today is an ordinance to stop the bleeding. But we do need to think of a long-term situation.”
The short-term solution is the ordinance and the resolution. The permits would be issued for one year at a time and could be renewed at least 90 days before its expiration. No permit shall be issued for an area adjacent to any public road.
Only nonprofit organizations that qualify for 501(c)(3) status and have demonstrated experience and knowledge in the care of horse management and protection would be eligible.
The penalty for unlawful feeding of free-roaming horses would be up to 90 days imprisonment, a fine of up to $300, or both.
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