- SB 126 clarifies the definition of horses in the New Mexico livestock code
- SB 126 is good for property owners in rural areas
- SB 126 is good for New Mexico’s environment
- SB 126 is good for wildlife and wildlife habitat
- SB 126 is good for sportsmen and outdoor enthusiasts
- SB 126 will cost taxpayers nothing
Senate Bill (SB) 126 (“Change Livestock and Animal Definitions”) was introduced by Senator Pat Woods. If passed, it would solve one aspect of the feral horse problem in rural communities. Since 2015, property owners who corral a trespassing horse on their property haven’t been able to count on the NM Livestock Board (NMLB) to take the horse. A trespassing cow, pig, goat, ostrich or llama yes, but not a horse. That’s because a 2015 Court of Appeals ruling changed the definition of a horse. It said that a horse that is “undomesticated and unowned” (e.g., feral or free-roaming) isn’t livestock; unfortunately, the NMLB is only authorized to deal with “livestock”.
The ruling has inadvertently made a mess of what used to be a simple process for dealing with feral horses that regularly trespass on private property. It has left property owners who want to protect their land from harm and citizens who are concerned with environmental sustainability stuck between a rock and a hard place.
SB 126 would provide a simple fix. Its straightforward clarification of the livestock definition will mean that property owners can once again fully utilize NMLB’s services regarding estray horses. By making it easier for property owners and communities to cope with feral horses, SB 126 will help protect New Mexico’s rural lands, fragile desert lands, forests and wildlife corridors. It will help reduce the public safety hazard due to feral horses wandering busy roads.
The bill will be heard shortly by the Senate Judiciary Committee. As of today, the hearing date has not been set. Because the wild/feral horse lobby is loud, persistent, promotes falsehoods, and scares the bejeezus out of legislators, it is important for more reasonable voices to be heard. We urge you to contact your state senator and Senate Judiciary Committee members and ask them to support SB 126.