Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests Actively Investigating Horse Deaths

SPRINGERVILLE, AZ, January 9, 2021 – Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests (ASNFs) Law Enforcement responded to a report of a deceased horse on the Black Mesa Ranger District on Thursday evening, Jan. 7th, 2021. Initial investigations concluded Friday, Jan. 8, confirming the death of four horses located outside of the Heber Wild Horse Territory. Equine field necropsies were performed on all four horses and concluded a consistent cause of death due to bullet wounds.

The first hours of an investigation are critical. It is forest priority to keep the public informed on emergent topics, which becomes increasingly challenging on incidents of this nature. The prioritization of safety and diligence to maintain a thorough investigation continues to be the leading part of the incident strategy. The ASNFs will continue to provide updates on the incident to public and media partners as the investigation proceeds.

“The seriousness of this and past horse-related incidents on the forest are of the greatest importance to me,” said Forest Supervisor, Anthony Madrid. “Much of the work around these unfortunate situations can only reach successful outcomes with the collective approach and partnership with the community. I am requesting assistance from our communities and publics to help us solve this case.”

Direct information regarding this incident to the Tipline Navajo County Sheriff’s Office: 1-800-78 CRIME (27463). Law Enforcement is offering up to $5000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of parties responsible. To report a dead or injured horse, contact the Black Mesa Ranger District: 928-535-7300.

Forest Service leadership is also reminding media partners and community members to stay clear of the scene to ensure the integrity of the investigation, safety of Law Enforcement, and individual safety. This collaboration includes working with both the Navajo County and Coconino County Sheriff’s Offices.

For questions, please contact the Apache-Sitgreaves NF’s Supervisor’s Office at 928-333-6280 or visit the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests website at http://www.fs.usda.gov/asnf.


USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.