Real Name: Unknown
Aliases: None Known
Wanted For: Animal Cruelty
Missing Since: August 1988
Details: Wild horses are considered a symbol of the freedom of the American West. The horses have lived there peacefully for decades. 28,000 of the horses can be found in central Nevada. In 1971, a law was passed, protecting the animals. It declared them a "national treasure". Many of them re-settled in central Nevada near existing ranch-land. This has been a controversial issue to some cattlemen, as they claim the horses are grazing on their lands, competing with their cattle for the already scare food supply. The controversy worsened in 1988 when hundreds of the horses were found dead. The cause of the deaths remains a mystery.
In August of 1988, a helicopter pilot completing a geological survey of Nevada's Bald Mountain area made a grim discovery. He noticed several horses lying dead in a field. Within weeks, officials from the Bureau of Land Management, the government agency responsible for taking care of the horses, discovered 475 other dead horses, all in the same area. Members of an organization dedicated to preserving the wild horses have been investigating the deaths.
In one search, they found almost fifty dead horses in one canyon. When they expanded their search, they found over 500 carcasses. Although some are believed to have died of natural causes, others were determined to have been shot to death. Bullets were found in some of the horses. The guns used were mostly hunting rifles.
Some authorities speculate that angry cattlemen may have ordered the horse killings in retaliation for the horses depleting the area's limited food supply. Local cattlemen dispute the allegations that ranchers were involved. Some even suggest that the horses weren't murdered at all, despite the bullet wounds being found.
A $12,000 reward has been posted for anyone that may have information about the shooters. However, many witnesses are believed to have been threatened into silence. Others are believed to be protecting their friends from being arrested.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the January 25, 1989 episode of Unsolved Mysteries.
Results: Unresolved. After the broadcast, five men were arrested in this case, charged in the deaths of twenty horses. Although they pleaded not guilty, their identities have not been revealed. A police official believes that several other men could be involved. Further information is unavailable.
- BLM boss pledges help in probe of mustang killings
- 180 More Wild Horses Found Dead in Nevada
- Slaughter of Wild Horses Draws Outrage in Nevada
- Report on the mass wild horse slaughter
- Lawman Len Sims, Alone on the Range, Hunts the Killers of Nevada's Wild Mustangs
- SitcomsOnline Discussion of the case (update)