RTF note: In the news story, you’ll see objections to the measure from at least one lawmaker referring to wild horses as a non-native species. According to Dr. Ross MacPhee, curator at the American Museum of Natural History, who is pursuing ancient DNA research into the origins of the horse, evidence shows that family Equidae originated in North America about 53 million years ago. Advances in molecular genetics have proven that Equus caballus completed its last adaptation in North America before disappearing, only to be reintroduced by the Spanish and then other early European settlers.
SANTA FE, N.M. – New Mexico’s wild horses can be a sensitive and divisive issue, with legal battles over how to manage the wild horse populations. Now, a state lawmaker is asking if the state can better protect wild horses by giving them their own park.
“Creating a new state park is a big deal,” said Sen. Liz Stefanics, (D) Cerrillos. “It has a financial burden to the state, it would use quite a bit of acres, and we would need to make sure that individuals would utilize the state park. That’s why I decided it should go into a study.”
In Senate Memorial 26, Sen. Stefanics is asking if New Mexico could make a state park for wild horses to roam. She said the state’s parks division would have to figure out where in the state the wild horse park would go, how many acres of land it would need, and how much money it would cost to sustain it.
Senate Republicans are wary of this memorial because the horses are not native to New Mexico and they would rather see a state park dedicated to indigenous New Mexico wildlife.
“If we’re gonna have a nature park or a wildlife reserve, go back to what it was before the Europeans showed up. It should go back to animals that were indigenous,” said Sen. Mark Moores, (R) Albuquerque.
There’s no dollar amount for how much a wild horse park would cost.
The memorial passed along party lines in the committee. If approved, New Mexico State Parks would share their findings about the possible state park to the legislature later this year.