PHOENIX — Someone has killed at least one young wild horse in the group that lives along the Salt River near Phoenix.
The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office said deputies found a dead foal with gunshot wounds over the weekend. The officers were following up reports that someone was shooting at three horses Friday in the Tonto National Forest.
The sheriff’s office said two other horses were injured or dead in the forest at a spot near Mesa, Arizona.
In April, the state Senate passed a bill to protect the animals known as the Salt River wild horses. Gov. Doug Ducey signed the bill in May, making it a crime to kill, harass or “otherwise interefere” with the horses’ freedom.
Witnesses told deputies the person who shot at the horses used either a rifle or shotgun and wore black shorts and a dark green shirt.
The sheriff’s office said two other people reportedly were also at the shooting.
Over a year ago, the U.S. Forest Service had attempted to round up and remove about 100 of the horses to control its population.
Public outcry, led by a group dedicated to protecting the horses, derailed the department’s plan.
The nonprofit group said about 500 horses live along the river.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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