Wild horse advocates are declaring victory for the Salt River Wild Horses after Monday’s Senate vote of 27-2 in favor of legislation that will protect the cherished Arizona herd. The House passed the bill on February 25th, and the legislation will now head back for concurrence on amendments added in the Senate to strengthen the legislation before moving on to the Governor’s desk and eventually, its signature into law.

The new bill criminalizes the harassment or killing of a Salt River Wild Horse. It also clarifies that the herds are indeed wild horses, not stray animals, and establishes a process to humanely manage the horses in a partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, the State Department of Agriculture, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department and the community.

The Salt River Wild Horse Management Group and the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign are applauding the vote, while supporters and volunteers on horseback are celebrating by flying the American and Arizona flags from atop a hill at Coons Bluff in Tonto National Forest, where the horses live.

“It’s been a long struggle, and it’s definitely gratifying to see our Senators almost unanimously reflecting the will of the public by voting to preserve this very important historic, economic and recreational resource for future generations to come,” said Simone Netherlands, president of the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group (SRWHMG).

You might remember Netherlands and the SRWHMG for their work saving Rosco, a young colt abandoned by his Salt River herd last month before being rescued and nursed back to health by the group’s volunteers. You can check out their video, here: