Wild horse death toll rises, $35,000 reward still being offered

The death toll of wild horses continues to rise, and a $35,000 reward is still on the table for...
The death toll of wild horses continues to rise, and a $35,000 reward is still on the table for anyone with information on the suspects.(Arizona's Family)
Published: Oct. 25, 2022 at 3:41 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - The death toll of wild horses continues to rise, and a $35,000 reward is still on the table for anyone with information on the suspects.

Ten more horses have been confirmed dead in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, bringing the death toll to 35. Another 15 horses are missing and presumed dead. A combined reward of $35,000 is being offered by various advocacy groups, including Animal Wellness Action, Center for a Humane Economy, and more. There are reportedly no identified suspects or persons of interest in the situation.

Earlier in October, officials with the Center for Humane Economy said they believed that those killing the horses were doing it in an “act of premeditated, vicious animal cruelty” that they hope local law enforcement takes seriously. Scott Beckstead, equine welfare specialist and director of campaigns for the Center for a Humane Economy said, “We encourage the investigating agencies to leave no stone unturned in their hunt for the person or persons responsible...We also hope Arizona lawmakers will consider passing a law to give all wild equines in Arizona protections to address these massacres and indiscriminate killings.”

The killings have happened alongside a bait and trap gather of unprotected Alpine wild horses by the U.S. Forest Service. So far, 80 horses have been removed from the area. Each of these horses, due to their status, is at risk of being killed and sold to buyers in Mexican or Canadian meat plants. A nearby Heber herd of more than 40 wild horses have been found shot and killed sporadically since 2018. No arrests have been made in regard to those killings.

Marty Irby, executive director of Animal Wellness Action, said they are encouraging agencies to speak with public lands grazers who have permits. “Intentionally killing horses to make room for more cattle to graze and ultimately raise cheap beef that is subsidized by the taxpayer is an affront that must end,” he said. The Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest has indicated it’s working with authorities to try to identify any suspects.