HEBER-OVERGAARD, AZ — Necropsies performed on 12 horses confirmed the animals were shot and killed in Heber-Overgaard area, according to officials.
On January 9, eight horses were reportedly found shot and killed, according to the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest.
An additional seven horses were discovered in the same area on Sunday, January 12.
#NEW Update to the horses found shot near Heber last week. NEW numbers from Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests: 15 wild horses found dead since last Thursday (8 Thursday / 7 Sunday ). Necropsies completed. 12 confirmed shot. 3 inconclusive. @abc15
— Mike Pelton (@MikePeltonABC15) January 15, 2020
A necropsy was performed on the horses found Sunday and it was determined that four of the deaths were due to gunshot wounds.
Officials say they were unable to determine the cause of death for three horses due to decay experienced in the wild.
One horse was believed to be a domestic horse that was part of the band found, but later was confirmed to be a wild horse.
Authorities say the horses were found by a hiker on the Black Mesa Ranger District, who then notified Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests Law Enforcement investigators.
Forest law enforcement, along with the Navajo County Sheriff’s Office are investigating the shootings. The Forest Service is asking the public to avoid the area during the investigation.
Since the beginning of the year, 15 wild horse deaths have been reported.