Incident Update on Black Mesa Ranger District Horse Deaths

On Saturday, January 9th, 2021, the Forest Service provided results from the initial investigation of horse deaths, including confirmation of four deceased horses due to bullet wounds. The ASNF continued the investigation based on a tip from the public about a possible fifth deceased horse. The most up-to-date and verified information confirms four deceased horses in total, including:

Three adult horses, including a pregnant mare, were found deceased on the scene.
One foal found with severe injuries due to bullet wounds.

After further assessment, it was decided to humanly euthanize the foal due to the fatal wounds. This required dispatching additional Forest Service personnel whose credentials included proper clearance and training to carry and use a firearm.

The Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests (ASNFs) have been working together with the Heber Wild Horse Freedom Preservation Alliance and Friends of the Heber Wild Horses to ensure the total counted deceased horses identified is accurate. Forest and District leadership wants to thank these advocates and the community for helping patrol, expanding search efforts, and providing trusted information around the incident. The call for a collective approach and partnership with the community during this incident has been, and continues to be, critical. The ASNFs will continue to provide updates on the incident to public and media partners as the investigation proceeds.

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.

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