Gruesome wild horse shooting in Arizona sparks calls for protection

Dozens of horses found shot, maimed and dead in Apache National Forest

Alpine, Ariz. (Oct. 6, 2022) —  Today, the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group and the American Wild Horse Campaign are calling for an investigation and criminal prosecution of the perpetrator(s) in a gruesome slaying of a historic herd of wild horses in the Apache Sitgreaves National Forest near the town of Alpine, AZ. Volunteers with the Alpine Wild Horse Advocates came upon a bloody scene during a routine observation of the herd, witnessing horses dead from bullet wounds in the lung area and face, and horses wounded yet still alive – including a wild horse with a section of its jaw missing, and yearling horses clinging together alone without their families. 

Photographs of the scene are available here. WARNING: EXTREMELY DISTURBING CONTENT. 

Arizona’s Alpine herd does not have adequate protections under federal or state law and advocacy organizations are calling for a new bill legally enshrining their protection. The Forest Service is currently in the highly controversial process of capturing and removing the Alpine wild horses from the Apache Forest and selling them at auction without limitation on slaughter.  

Simone Netherlands, President of the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group, which has been spearheading efforts to protect the Alpine herd, stated today: 

“This hateful massacre is incomprehensible and the killer or killers must be brought to full justice. The Alpine wild horses which live along the historic Coronado Trail are cherished by Arizonans and the American public. This historic herd is in desperate need of stronger protections from harm and further attacks”. 

“We thank the Arizona Department of Agriculture for its quick response to this tragedy and ask for an increased law enforcement presence in this part of the Apache Forest to prevent any additional deaths.

“As a wild horse protection organization, we are calling for a bill that will include this herd under the protection of the state of Arizona much like the Salt River wild horses.” 

AWHC Executive Director Suzanne Roy added:

“We are appalled by the horrific and criminal killing of wild horses in Arizona. This heinous and cowardly act runs counter to all animal welfare values that Arizonans and Americans hold dear. We call on a strong law enforcement response and prosecution of the perpetrator or perpetrators to the fullest extent of the law. This tragedy highlights the need for adequate and increased protections for this historic wild horse herd.”

Netherland’s volunteer group estimates that at least 13 horses have been shot to death, at least 10 are missing and believed to be dead, and at least four have been shot in the face, neck, and/or bellies but are still alive and suffering in the Apache Forest.  

This is a developing story and AWHC and the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group will be issuing further statements as information becomes known. 


About the American Wild Horse Campaign

The American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) is the nation's leading wild horse protection organization, with more than 700,000 supporters and followers nationwide. AWHC is dedicated to preserving the American wild horse and burros in viable, free-roaming herds for generations to come, as part of our national heritage. In addition to advocating for the protection and preservation of America's wild herds, AWHC implements the largest wild horse fertility control program in the world through a partnership with the State of Nevada for wild horses that live in the Virginia Range near Reno.