PRINEVILLE, Ore. - Mustangs to the Rescue has added $2,000 to the reward fund for whomever shot and killed six wild horses in the Ochoco National Forest earlier this month, pushing the total to $9,000.
The Humane Society of the U.S. added $5,000 to the fund last week, after the Central Oregon Wild Horse Coalition offered $2,000 for information leading to the culprits.
On Oct. 12, hunters discovered three wild horses who had been shot and fatally wounded in the Big Prairie Summit area east of Prineville. They included a severely wounded juvenile that was euthanized.
Less than a week later, Forest Service investigators combing the scene found three more shot and killed horses.
The coalition is a nonprofit group established to protect and preserve the wild horses of Central Oregon.
The shooting deaths of six wild horses about 10-15 miles away in the spring of 2011 remain unsolved, despite an outstanding $4,000 reward offer.
Getting the serious attention of law enforcement, prosecutors and the community in cases involving allegations of cruelty to animals is an essential step in protecting the community, the HSUS said in a statement last week.
The connection between animal cruelty and human violence is well-documented. Studies show a correlation between animal cruelty and all manner of other crimes, from narcotics and firearms violations to battery and sexual assault.
"Wild horses roaming free on our public lands are a national treasure to be cherished and protected," said Scott Beckstead, senior Oregon state director for The Humane Society of the United States.
"Shooting these majestic creatures is not only an act of depraved cruelty, but also a serious criminal offense. We applaud the U.S. Forest Service and the Crook County Sheriff for taking these crimes seriously, and for their dedication in working to bring the perpetrators to justice."
The U.S. Forest Service and Crook County Sheriff are investigating. Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Capt. Dan Smith, U.S. Forest Service, (541)383-5798; or the Crook County Sheriff's Office, (541)447-6398.
The HSUS Animal Cruelty Campaign raises public awareness and educates communities about the connection between animal cruelty and human violence while providing a variety of resources to law enforcement agencies, social work professionals, educators, legislators and families.
The HSUS offers rewards in animal cruelty cases across the country and works to strengthen laws against animal cruelty. To see information on statistics, trends, laws and animal cruelty categories, go to humanesociety.org.