SPRINGERVILLE, Ariz. (AP) — Wild horse rights advocates are calling on authorities to prosecute whoever is responsible for the reported killing of more than a dozen wild horses in northeastern Arizona.
US Forest Service officials announced Friday that they were investigating the deaths of the horses, but did not release any details.
Phoenix TV station KTVK reported Saturday that witnesses told them 14 horses were found in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest with fatal gunshot wounds to the abdomen, face and between the eyes.
“The person or persons responsible for this act of premeditated, brutal animal cruelty pose a real risk to people and animals,” said Scott Beckstead, director of campaigns and horse welfare specialist for Washington, DC-based Center for a Humane Economy, said. KTVK. “We expect to see swift and aggressive action by federal, state, and local law enforcement.”
Simone Netherlands of the Salt River Wild Horse Management group in Arizona said the horses “are not protected by the federal government, not protected by state laws, so it’s sickening that someone would come here and kill them.”
The dead horses were found near Forest Road 25 in the Alpine and Springerville Ranger Districts, according to the Forest Service, which said in a statement that they were “coordinating with appropriate officials to support the investigation.”
Meanwhile, a $20,000 reward continues to be offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever killed five wild horses in eastern Nevada late last year.
The Bureau of Land Management announced last week that the National Mustang Association has pledged to double the previous $10,000 reward in the case.
It is not known if the cases in Nevada and Arizona are related.
Authorities said five dead horses were discovered on Nov. 16 in Jakes Valley, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) west of Ely.
They said all the horses were located within 600 yards of each other about 2 miles (3 kilometers) south of US Highway 50, and an aborted fetus was attached to one of the dead animals. .
The BLM investigates and prosecutes killings as part of enforcement of the Wild Horses and Burro Act of 1971.