I-Team: Mustangs found dead, $100K reward offered to find culprits who sabotaged horse preserve

LAS VEGAS - A reward of $100,000 is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the persons responsible for a disturbing act of animal cruelty.  WARNING: Some of the images you are about to see are disturbing.

A dozen or more wild mustangs at a preserve in Elko County died of thirst after someone disabled all of their water sources.  The mustangs were living at the preserve because they were rescued by businesswoman Madeleine Pickens.  In addition to the dead horses, dozens of others are now missing.

"They got little Scarlet," Pickens said.  "She wasn't a pony -- just a small horse. She was so sweet."

Pickens said when she arrived Monday afternoon to her Elko County ranch, one of the first dead horses she saw was a mare known at the ranch as Scarlet. Pickens named her.

The withered remains of 11 more Mustangs were found in and around the water sources that had been installed for the horses. Each of the pumps and wells used to provide water to the horses had been sabotaged, disabled, dried up, which meant the 60 or so horses living in that sector had no water in the summer heat.

Reward: $100,000 offered

"The horses know where all the water is," Pickens said.  "Every one of them was off, so all they could do is die of thirst, and it's not a  pretty death. It's horrible to see them laying there."

It's not the first time Picken's property has been vandalized.  She's spent seven years, along with $25 million turning a barren, overgrazed cattle ranch into the 600,000 acre Mustang Monument.

The Mustang Monument is an eco-resort and sanctuary for 700 or more wild horses which were ransomed and rescued by Pickens before they could be sent to a slaughterhouse.

However, due to the continued opposition by the BLM and Elko County officials -- the eco-resort is closed. Pickens and her staff still operate the monument as a self-sustaining foundation, and when she's on the property, she helps feed the Mustangs.

The sabotage occurred in the northeast corner of the property, more than an hour's drive from the main ranch house.  Ranch hands check every week on the herd living out there. They found the carnage over the weekend.

But it was more than random vandalism. Every gate was open and every fence was cut and laid down. A few horses were still alive when they were found, but they were too weak to stand.

"I feel so guilty because I rescued these horses from the killer-buyers and from going to slaughterhouses," Pickens said.  "They're on a 12,000-acre private piece of land -- all fenced in with wells and springs -- and they should be safe. But some hoodlums, some outlaws come in and kill them."

Pickens staff contacted the Elko Sheriff's Office, but they're not confident there will be much of an investigation, so Wednesday afternoon, she told the 8 News NOW I-Team she was offering a reward of $100,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the persons responsible.

"I'm in shock. It's so disturbing when you drive by and see these beautiful bodies lying on the ground," Pickens said.

If you have any information regarding these crimes against Saving America's Mustangs and Mustang Monument, please call Rean Wegley immediately at 858-759-5517 or contact her by email on rwegley@savingamericasmustangs.org.

The I-Team had recently visited Mustang Monument as part of a planned news series.

For more on the Mustang Monument and its horses, click here.
 


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