HEBER/OVERGAARD — Two free-roaming horses were found dead Thursday and Friday off of Forest Service Roads 51 and 50 in the Apache-Sitgreaves Nationals Forests. The horses appear to have been shot but that information has not been confirmed by the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests representatives.

A U.S. Forest Service investigator, John Lopez, is looking into both incidents according to Navajo County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy, Randy Moffat. The Independent spoke to Moffat early Monday morning and he stated that the investigation is in the jurisdiction of the Forest Service since the horses were found dead on forest land.

Horse advocacy group, Citizens Against Equine Slaughter (CAES) and the Heber Wild Horses Preservation Alliance posted pictures on their social media pages over the weekend, asking for anyone with information to contact them directly. The groups are working together to set up a reward fund for “ … any information leading to the arrest of person(s) responsible …” for killing the horses.

“We are trying to set up a hotline or a tip-line to funnel information to with the Black Mesa Ranger District and/or the Springerville District Office,” said Robin Crawford of Heber and member of the Heber Wild Horses Preservation Alliance. “We want to get this line set up and get information coming in immediately.”

12 NEWS of Phoenix reported that one horse was found on Thursday Oct. 11, and a second horse found on Friday, Oct. 12, however that information has also not been confirmed.

The Independent reached out to the Black Mesa Ranger District Manager Richard Madril, ASNF Range Program Manager Dave Evans, Investigator John Lopez along with several other Forest Service representatives but did not receive a response by press time.

It is unclear at this point if the shooting of the horses was intentional or if the two incidents are related. Rumors and speculation on social media offer a variety of explanations, however, the investigation remains open.

Reach the reporter at lsingleton@wmicentral.com

Laura Singleton is a reporter for the White Mountain Independent, covering Show Low city government, business and education.

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