The Sandoval County Commission postponed a vote on a controversial ordinance scheduled for the May 10 meeting to the May 24 meeting.
The ordinance would ban the feeding of wild horses in Placitas. It was proposed at the Jan. 25 commission meeting and presented by Sandoval County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Allen Mills. The ordinance reads “the feeding of wild horses makes them dependent on humans and leads them to stay in populated areas instead of moving throughout their natural range. There is an overpopulation of wild horses in and around the community of Placitas, which leads to traffic accidents and the overgrazing of land.”
The commissioners voted 3-2 against the ordinance at 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 NM 165 near mile marker 4, where horses have been hit by vehicles and fed by people in that area.
“They’re being fed up in people’s neighborhoods and next to their houses. It’s created a lot of conflict,” District 1 Commissioner Katherine Bruch, who represents Placitas, said. “Over the years, we’ve been told well, OK, we had our horse advisory, the subcommittee’s had some guidelines for us. We basically did a few of the things that were recommended, such as the PZP program and it’s been effective, but it is insufficient. So we know that we want a way forward, but the way forward has to protect the animals as well. And we’ve got to have a thoughtful process in place that puts them out of the proximity of additional danger, but also protects the citizens of our community. So the roadways are clearly part of the problem. We don’t want to concentrate all of those animals in one area and make the conflict greater.”
The ordinance was resurrected at the April 12 meeting with some revisions. Now it would establish a permitting process for third parties to feed the horses safely, with only nonprofit organizations eligible for the permit.
Bruch, who represents Placitas, continued her support for the ban at that meeting.
“I do think we’ve gathered quite a bit of additional information over the previous period when we posted the last ordinance,” Bruch said. “And I do think that I have done quite a bit of outreach to individuals and community members, and so we do have some additional meetings scheduled.”
The postponement of the vote allows for a second public meeting to enable residents to share their opinions and suggestions with the county.
“The goal of the ordinance and the resolution is public safety and the safety of the horses,” Commission Chair David Heil said. “This rescheduling provides more time to consider new information being brought forth from the second public meeting. No horse feeding-related items will be on the May 10th Commission meeting agenda.”
The second public meeting is scheduled for 2 p.m. May 17 at the Placitas Senior Center, 41 Camino de la Huertas, Placitas.