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Information sought in wild horse shooting

Three horses were found dead on Sunday north of Big Summit Prairie


U.S. Forest Service law enforcement personnel are seeking information regarding the shooting death of three wild horses north of Big Summit Prairie.

The horses were discovered this past Sunday on Forest Service Road 22 near the 500 spur north of Big Summit Prairie. At the time they were found, they appeared to have been shot several days earlier. The horses resembled wild animals from their unkempt hair to lack of branding or horseshoes.

The incident is currently under investigation, but because of the remote location and recent decline in patrol of the area, Forest Service and Crook County law enforcement have little to go on at this point.

Sergeant James Savage of the Crook County Sheriff’s Office explained that even though hunting season has increased traffic on the Ochoco, most people tend not to venture beyond Walton Lake.

“This (where the crime occurred) is kind of northeast of there,” he said. “There are people there, but it is not heavily traveled like the lower part of the forest.”

Making matters worse, fewer law enforcement personnel are patrolling the area. Savage explained that a member of the forest service law enforcement patrols the area, but currently nobody from the Sheriff’s Office is assigned to the forest.

“Unfortunately, we lost that,” he said.

However, even with a deputy patrolling the forest, these types of cases can be hard to solve. In 2011, when the Sheriff’s Office still had a forest deputy, they were investigating a case where someone shot six wild horses. That case has since gone cold, Savage said.

“It’s a crime where there is not a lot of physical evidence.”

Consequently, the Forest Service and Sheriff’s Office are asking the public to provide any information they have that might help them solve the case. Savage noted that somebody may have seen a group of hunters in the area or perhaps a parked vehicle.

“Any kind of information helps,” he said.

Assuming law enforcement staff successfully finds whoever is responsible for the shooting, the suspect(s) could face felony charges.

“It (a wild horse) is a natural resource just like deer or elk, and that is why we work poaching cases,” Savage stated. “Just the way they were shot and left to suffer — it’s inhumane, it’s animal abuse.”



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