Navajo Nation officials have declared an emergency drought. At the same time the tribe is grappling with the impacts of wild horses overgrazing on the dry landscape.
The dry conditions have led to a shortage of water and feed for livestock and wildlife. Gloria Tom, director of the Navajo Department of Fish and Wildlife, said the Navajo ecosystem cannot support the heavy populations of wild horses.
One horse consumes 32 pounds of forage and 10 gallons of water per day.
“We have no water, no vegetation, and we have 40,000 horses out there,” Tom said. “The impact is tremendous. We have horses competing for food and water. There’s potential for disease outbreaks.”
The Navajo president has canceled a wild horse hunt saying the tribe needs to work together to come up with an alternate plan to manage the horses. Many consider the horses sacred. One New Mexico organization has offered to relocate some animals off the reservation.