KBR Wild Horse and Burro News
December 29, 1998
RENO, Nev. (AP) -- Authorities are investigating the shooting deaths of 25 wild horses, the worst slaughter of free-roaming horses in the state in a decade. "All of the horses appear to have been shot at close range with a high-powered rifle," Paul Iverson, administrator of the Nevada Division of Agriculture, said today. "I think it's absolutely tragic. ... They weren't hurting anybody." Several young colts and pregnant mares were among the dead horses discovered on Sunday and Monday in an area in northern Nevada known as "Devil's Flat," about 5 miles east of Sparks. Investigators do not believe the killings are related in any way to ongoing disagreements between ranchers and government managers of wild horses, said John Tyson, a Storey County range management officer. "It appears to be a killing of targets of opportunity," he told the Reno Gazette-Journal. State Veterinarian David Thain said he would remove bullets from the carcasses to help find the killers. "There are no words to describe how appalling it is," Thain said. The horses are not technically considered wild horses as defined by the federal Wild Horse and Burro Act because they did not descend from horses living on public land at the time the act was passed in 1969, authorities said. Rather, they are believed to have descended from privately owned horses and were allowed to roam free. "It's unusual when more than one or two are shot," said Bob Stewart, a spokesman for the Bureau of Land Management in Reno. Numerous horses were shot on public land in central Nevada during the mid-1980s, he said. Some believed those shootings to be linked to friction with ranchers, but no one ever was prosecuted. "It was all over central Nevada. We just never were able to get enough evidence to go to court with anybody," Stewart said. The BLM manages more than 20,000 wild horses and burros on federal land in Nevada but has nothing to do so far with the dead horses discovered this week, Stewart said. The BLM might get involved if any of the dead horses turn out to have been on federal land.---
They have also unfortunately discovered additional dead horses after performing a helicopter search. The reward for information leading to the capture and conviction of the perpetrators is now up to $35,000.00.
Wild Horses Shot To Death in Nevada By SCOTT SONNER RENO, Nev. (AP) -- Twenty-five wild horses were shot to death at close range with a rifle in the worst slaughter of free-roaming horses in Nevada in a decade, investigators said Tuesday. "This kind of stuff is just sick and absolutely senseless," said Paul Iverson, administrator of the Nevada Division of Agriculture. "Some of them were shot and left to suffer for a long period of time." All of the horses appeared to have been shot on Sunday about five miles east of the Reno-Sparks area. The carcasses were found in a valley known as Devil's Flat. The horses included several young colts and pregnant mares. Some were maimed and at least one was tortured with sprays to the head from a fire extinguisher after being shot, sheriff's Sgt. Bob Towery said. "I have no reason why. There's no rationale for it," Towery said. One young horse was still alive when leaders of a local animal rescue group were called to the scene Sunday afternoon, but it had to be destroyed. "We only saw two (dead) horses at first. Then, oh my God, we saw another one. And then a fourth and a fifth. It was horrible," said Bobbi Royle of Wild Horse Spirit based in the nearby Washoe Valley. "There was one little filly still alive, probably just eight or nine months old. She was shot in the back and paralyzed,'' she said Tuesday. "She had to be put down." State officials were using a metal detector to locate and remove bullets from the carcasses to be sent to a forensics lab. A reward totaling more than $20,000 was posted for the arrest of the killers. "There's just total outrage. People are so upset," said Lydia Hammack, president of Virginia Range Wildlife Protection Association in Virginia City. "These animals are magnificent animals and I really can't understand how somebody can do this. It's a real sicko out there." Investigators do not believe the killings are related to the longstanding tensions between ranchers and government managers of wild horses, said John Tyson, a Storey County range management officer. For decades, ranchers have complained that wild horses compete with their livestock for limited food in the high desert. The slaughter is believed to be the biggest single shooting of wild horses in Nevada since as many as 600 were killed during a two-year period in the mid-1980s. Those shootings were linked to friction with ranchers, but "we just never were able to get enough evidence to go to court with anybody," said Bob Stewart, a spokesman for the federal Bureau of Land Management.December 30, 1998
Psychologist Ponders Horse Killer By SCOTT SONNER RENO, Nev. (AP) -- Investigators completed the last field autopsies on 34 wild horses slaughtered in northern Nevada today and began trying to figure out what kind of person would shoot dozens of mustangs, leaving them for dead. "It's hard to guess who would do something like this," Washoe County Sheriff's Lt. Janice Lee said today. "You don't get a good feel for it until you get up in a helicopter and see they are just randomly littered along the mountains." Law officers found the 34th victim late Wednesday when they widened their helicopter search because dead horses were turning up miles from the original shooting scene, apparently limping away wounded before they died. "I believe we will probably find a few more," said Paul Iverson, administrator of the Nevada Division of Agriculture. Leaders of the investigation in the hills five miles east of the Reno-Sparks area were expressing growing confidence they would capture the horse killers as total rewards for a conviction grew to more than $35,000. "We have some very good physical evidence," said John Tyson, a Storey County range management officer and deputy state brand inspector. "I have enough good leads to fill up a folder. There's no question in my mind we're going to catch this guy or persons," Tyson said. Iverson, Tyson and other investigators have dismissed the possibility that the shootings stem from a dispute between ranchers and the government over wild horses competing for feed for livestock. "I think this is just an act of wanting to kill something," Iverson said today. "It has nothing to do, I don't think, with the ranching community." A leading psychologist in the area suggested a sadistic personality was at play. "This is someone who takes pleasure in the pain of other creatures," said Ole Theinhaus, chairman of the Psychology Department at the University of Nevada-Reno, told the Reno Gazette-Journal. All of the horses appeared to have been shot multiple times. Investigators started discovering the horse carcasses on Sunday about five miles east of Sparks. Several young colts and pregnant mares were among the victims, including one filly that was clinging to life but had to be destroyed.---
I received the following correspondence from Washoe County Sherrif Richard Kirkland:
My agency is strongly committed to bringing to justice those involved in the outrageous acts of shooting these horses.
However, for clarity purposes the shooting of the horses actually occured
in Storey County which is an adjacent county. Storey county is a very
small population county and they do not have the resources to handle an
event of this magnitude. Therefore I have provided the resources of my
agency to work in concert with the Storey County Sheriffs office.
Washoe County has 700 employees while Storey County has about 25. We are also
working together with two State Agencies, which, although very small, are
doing their best in providing excellent expertise as we all strive to solve
I feel very confident that with all the resources, including
my lab which is a nationally recognized lab which provides service to every
county (except las vegas) in Nevada and several other states, we will be
able to solve this crime. The outside assistance from agencies and organizations
such as yours and the general public will play heavily in the solving of this
crime. Those involved will most certainly ultimately talk about it to
someone...and then the house of cards will come down. The reward is very
important...and again..public participation is essential. Once we catch
those involved our forensic sciences will then convict. We also have an
excellent prosecutor's office so we are confident. All it will take is time
and the public's help...thank you again
I feel very confident that with all the resources, including my lab which is a nationally recognized lab which provides service to every county (except las vegas) in Nevada and several other states, we will be able to solve this crime. The outside assistance from agencies and organizations such as yours and the general public will play heavily in the solving of this crime. Those involved will most certainly ultimately talk about it to someone...and then the house of cards will come down. The reward is very important...and again..public participation is essential. Once we catch those involved our forensic sciences will then convict. We also have an excellent prosecutor's office so we are confident. All it will take is time and the public's help...thank you again
December 31, 1998
Reward Fund Grows for Dead Horses By SCOTT SONNER LOCKWOOD, Nev. (AP) -- Horses don't talk. But money does. Townspeople are counting on a reward of $35,000-plus to help catch the killers of 34 horses that used to roam the canyons and hillsides just east of Reno. The wild horses were shot to death at close range with a rifle. "If there's enough money put up, then somebody will say something about it to somebody," said Lydia Hammack, president of the Virginia Range Wildlife Protection Association in Nevada. "Somebody will be overheard yucking it up in a bar or bragging to their friends." The slaughter of the wild horses Sunday was the worst in Nevada since several hundred were shot over a two-year period during the mid-1980s. It has shaken a region that considers wild horses an emblem of its heritage, attracted the attention of foreigners fascinated by the Wild West and drawn reward donations from across the country. We're handling it just as we would a murder," Storey County Sheriff's Sgt. Bill Petty said. Prosecutors said they will seek charges that could bring two to five years in prison for each horse killed. Investigators have dismissed the possibility that the shootings stem from a longrunning dispute between the government and ranchers who complain the wild horses compete with their livestock for food. Several young colts and pregnant mares were among those killed. Some were maimed and at least one was blasted with a fire extinguisher. Many of the wounded suffered for days. Some limped for miles when authorities discovered them and put them to death. "These bullets have chipped the hearts of everybody around here," said John Tyson, a range management officer. "It offends normal people everywhere, but even more so people in the West who consider these horses part of our heritage." Like the frontier sheriffs who used to post rewards for the capture of the bad guys, animal protection organizations nationwide are lining up to contribute. The Humane Society of the United States has given $10,000. "While I was typing the latest press release, three more people called and made donations," Sgt. Bob Towery said. "It is coming in that fast."