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Three wild horses found shot to death in eastern Arizona

Heber horses
Betty Nixon
A wild horse stallion on the Black Mesa Ranger District on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests taken on Jan. 3, 2022. Three of the federally protected Heber horses were found shot to death in late December.

Three wild horses have been found dead on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests in eastern Arizona. It’s the latest in a years-long string of unsolved horse killings in the area that began in 2018.

Forest Service officials say all three horses found recently on the Black Mesa Ranger District near Heber were shot to death.

Officials are asking for the public’s help, and say the Forest Service is trying to put a stop to the mysterious killings that have plagued the federally protected herd of wild horses. Dozens have been found shot to death on the Apache-Sitgreaves in recent years.

To date no arrests have been made but an investigation is ongoing. Officials didn’t provide any further information.

Last January, three adult wild horses, including a pregnant mare, as well as a foal were killed on the Black Mesa Ranger District. And in January 2020 15 dead horses were found, most of which were confirmed to have been shot.

The horses that roam the national forest and other lands near the town of Heber are protected under the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act signed into law by President Richard Nixon in 1971.

Those with information are asked to call the Navajo County Sheriff’s Office tip line at (928) 524-4050.

A $10,000 reward is being offered for information that leads to an arrest.

Ryan joined KNAU's newsroom as executive producer in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a frequent contributor to NPR.