Horse targeted in the United States
Horses in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest land in Arizona are prey to deadly attacks, the first of which date back to 2018. Associations and government bodies are mobilizing to protect these equines.
New tragedy in the United States. Since the beginning of October, twenty-five horses in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest land in Arizona have been found dead, killed with rifle bullets. The gruesome scene was discovered by wildlife advocates while conducting a census of the park’s horses.
“It’s a real massacre, it’s absolutely horrible. Entire families of horses have been killed,” described Simone Netherlands, president of Salt River Wild Horse Management, an organization that fights for the preservation of these horses, in a Washington Post article.
The horses have bullet holes and wounds in their heads, hearts and lungs. “These are techniques used by hunters,” the president said.
Those that are still alive, “are completely traumatized and scared. They are desperately looking for and calling members of their herd,” describes Simone Netherlands. Unfortunately, this is not the first time that horses in the park have been victims of such acts. A 2019 United States Department of Agriculture report listed the acts perpetuated on these horses.
From October 2018 to May 2019, nineteen horses died within the park. The departmental service conducted investigations. Although the cause of death remains undetermined, it is believed to be a criminal accident and not a natural cause. On the 30th of September 2019, two horses of private owners were found lifeless in the forest. The suspect was arrested eleven days later. In January 2020, fifteen horses died. Eight of them had bullet holes.
On the 3rd of October, the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued an APB and a $20,000 reward for information on the deaths of five horses shot to death. The reward is funded by the BLM and the Mustang Nation Association, a wilderness horse advocacy group.
Initially set at $5,000, then $10,000, the reward keeps growing. “We hope that increasing the reward amount will encourage someone to come forward with information leading to the arrest and conviction of this heinous crime,” said George R. Higgins, president of the Mustang Nation Association.
PRESENT FOR OVER A CENTURY
The horses in question are feral, formerly domesticated horses that have become wild again after becoming lost or escaping. But they have been living here for over a century. Yet they have no federal protection and are considered “livestock. Salt River Wild Horse Management estimates that there are 400 horses on the site.
“They should be protected from killing and harassment and managed by human control, which is not only more humane, but also more cost effective and efficient in reducing the population in the long run,” elaborates the organization’s president.