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Wild horse fatally shot; four horses abandoned

LONGVIEW, Wash. – Officials and residents are concerned after a horse was shot and butchered near southwest Washington’s Silver Lake on Thursday, and four others appear to have been abandoned there last week.

“It’s just horrible,” said Karol Byrnes, who owns property in the area and has agreed to take in all four abandoned horses – one of which was near starvation when it was found. The first abandoned horse was found Monday and three more were located by Weyerhaeuser employees Friday.

Thursday, two young men shot what authorities believe was a wild horse and butchered the animal, taking its hindquarters. A herd of wild horses has roamed Weyerhaeuser Co. property near south Silver Lake for decades and is looked after by a Weyerhaeuser contractor.

The suspected shooters have not yet been found. Weyerhaeuser security officers, who reported the incident, said the men were in a green or blue newer-model Dodge truck.

As for the abandoned horses, officials believe people are leaving the domesticated animals there because they can’t afford to feed them anymore and hope they’ll be absorbed by the wild herd.

That couldn’t be further from the truth, though, and the animals would have likely died if Weyerhaeuser contractor Cleon Moen hadn’t found them and taken them to Byrnes. All four horses were very docile and obviously used to people, Moen told Byrnes.

One, found Monday, was emaciated. The others were in better shape, but even a healthy domesticated horse can’t survive in a wild herd. The wild animals can become violent and kill a domesticated horse. At best, an abandoned animal would be driven out and likely die of exposure and starvation because it’s not used to fending for itself.

Byrnes said she’ll keep the four horses on her property until permanent homes can be found for them.