HEBER, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - Authorities are looking into the shooting death of several wild horses, including a pregnant mare. The horses were found earlier this month in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest (ASNF) in eastern Arizona. There's a $5,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest.
Investigators were called to the Black Mesa Ranger District January 7, 2021, after the four horses were found dead. A fifth horse, a foal, was wounded and had to be euthanized by officials.
Officials confirmed that the four horses located outside of the Heber Wild Horse Territory had been shot to death. The Heber Wild Horse Territory was established back in 1974 and spans around 19,700 acres for the wild horses to roam around on.
This new discovery is just another in a string of unsolved incidents in previous years involving wild horses being shot in the area. Horse advocates say there have been 28 dead horses reported since October 2018.
An Arizona lawmaker met with the U.S. Forest Service and sent them a letter requesting an extensive investigation and transparency with the public regarding the investigation into the shooting deaths of wild horses in Heber.
Officials with the ASNF are working with the Heber Wild Horse Freedom Preservation Alliance and Friends of the Heber Wild Horses to ensure the total counted deceased horses identified is accurate.
A survey conducted by the National Forest Service a few years back estimated there are between 270 and 420 wild horses in the territory. At the time, they said that's too many.
The plan would include sterilizing some horses and removing others, getting the population down to around 100 horses or less.
If you have any information regarding this incident you can report it to the Navajo County Sheriff’s Office tip line, at 1-800-78 CRIME (27463).
Law enforcement is offering up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of parties responsible.