Two wild stallions from Utah’s beloved Onaqui herd were shot last week, and the Bureau of Land Management, along with four wild horse advocacy organizations, is offering $22,500 to anyone with information that will help arrest whoever is responsible.
The horses were found in the Onaqui Mountain Herd Management Area Sunday, 60 miles southwest of Salt Lake City, and were likely killed two to three days earlier.
The Onaqui herd, made up of 305 horses as of Jan. 11, has been a topic of debate over the years, with wild horse advocates on one side and population management efforts on the other.
The “iconic stallions,” as the American Wild Horse Campaign’s executive director Suzanne Roy called them, are the most famous in Utah. Actress Katherine Heigl has even declared her support for the Onaqui horses, dubbing them “living treasures.”
“Harassing, capturing or killing wild horses is illegal and punishable by up to a year in prison and/or a fine,” said Mike Gates, manager of the Bureau of Land Management West Desert District Office, in a statement. “The BLM takes our responsibility seriously to protect these animals and is committed to holding accountable whomever is responsible for this unconscionable act.”
The Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act, passed in 1971, protects wild horses from capture, harassment and murder, calling them “living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West.”
The American Wild Horse Campaign, Onaqui Catalogue Foundation, the National Mustang Association and Red Birds Trust are also contributing to the reward.
Those who know anything concerning the horses’ deaths can call the Bureau of Land Management Utah Law Enforcement Tipline at 800-722-3998.