Authorities in Eastern Kentucky are searching for the person or persons responsible for the shooting of at least 15 wild horses.
The horses lived in a rehabilitated strip mine area in Floyd County, NPR reports. About 30 horses have lived in two main herds on the land for several years.
But earlier this month, several horses were found shot to death.
“This is very inhumane,” Floyd County Sheriff John Hunt told local TV station WYMT, “and it’s a very cruel act of somebody who just apparently had nothing else to do or whatever just to go back on a strip job and shoot down horses who were, one of them obviously was feeding, had grass in its mouth.”
“It looked like a battlefield for just horses — we counted 15 that we found dead,” he continued. “All 15 appeared to us to have been shot.”
At least two of the horses had been pregnant when they were shot. Some of the horses were less than a year old.
Tonya Conn, president of the local group Dumas Rescue, told the station that the horses had been “hunted.”
“Seeing them gunned down is … it’s beyond horrific,” she told the station. “These horses were scattered in various, various places, distances from each other so they had been shot, and they’d scattered then hunted and shot down.”
Local authorities are offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest of the person responsible for the shootings. The reward amount started at $500, but animal lovers from around the country have contributed to the fund, WYMT reports.
Megan Goble, who lives near the site tells NPR that her family owns some of the land that has become home to the horses. She described the herd as a mix of horses that were brought there by their owners and those that were born in the wild.
“I’ve done rescue for a long time. I’ve seen some pretty bad things,” Goble told NPR. “This was different. This was a very large act of evil, for lack of a better term. I mean, there’s no other way that I can describe it. Somebody went out of their way to go up there and kill these horses, and not even quickly, for no reason. No reason whatsoever.”
Anyone with information about the shootings is asked to contact the Floyd County Sheriff’s Office at 606-886-6171.