LAKE PLEASANT, Ariz. -- A walk around Lake Pleasant, near Phoenix took a horrific turn for an outdoorsman this week.
“It's very troubling, personally it's very troubling for me, too,” said Rem Hawes, spokesperson for the Bureau of Land Management.
Five burros, one of which was pregnant, were found shot dead. The BLM is now investigating.
Hawes said there is a chance the killings could be accidental, but he’s not counting on it.
“Because there are five of them it looks suspicious. Looks to be the work of an evil doer,” he said.
The inquisitive creatures are protected by federal law.
You can go to jail for killing these animals along with hefty fines, but it appears not everyone is paying attention.
In 2009, someone shot and killed 11 burros around Lake Pleasant. That case is still unsolved.
Crime scene investigators spent Thursday searching for clues to find the shooter.
“We are looking for everything from footprints to residue from firearms, bullet shell casings and looking within the animals for the bullets themselves,” Hawes said.
A couple hundred burros call this area home, and the BLM wants to keep it that way. Wild burros and horses on public lands are protected by law under the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971.
Under that act, a person convicted of killing a protected animal on public land may be subject to a fine of up to $2,000 and/or imprisonment for up to one year for each violation.
"We are committed to the protection and management of wild burros and horses, and take this kind of criminal violation seriously. This is why we are asking for the public’s assistance,” Hawes said.
People who have any information about the burro shootings are asked to call 1-800-637-9152.
All calls are confidential and a reward of up to $2,500 is offered for information leading to a conviction.