By Barbara Laboe The Daily News
LONGVIEW — Officials and residents are concerned after a horse was shot and butchered near Silver Lake Thursday and four others appear to have been abandoned there this 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 employes Friday, Byrnes told The Daily News.
Thursday, two young men shot what authorities believe to be a wild horse and butchered the animal, taking its hindquarters. A herd of wild horses has roamed Weyerhaeuser Co., property near Headquarters Camp and south Silver Lake for decades, and is looked after by a Weyerhaeuser contractor.
An equine carcass was found Thursday morning at Headquarters Camp, 3434 South Silver Lake Road, according to a dispatch report. 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.
Sheriff Mark Nelson said it is a crime to kill the horses and he’s never heard of one being shot. He said it was particularly bizarre that the animal was butchered.
As for the abandoned horses, officials believe people are leaving the domesticated animals there because they can’t afford to feed them anymore in mistaken hopes 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 even kill a domesticated horse. At best, an abandoned animal would be driven out and likely die of exposure and starvation because they’re not used to fending for themselves.
“There’s a real minimal chance of survival,” said Anthony Chavez, a Weyerhaeuser spokesman. “We really need to dispel the belief that dropping off horses there means they’ll wind up with a new home. … This is not a refuge for these horses.”
Byrnes said she’ll keep the four horses on her property until permanent homes can be found for them. The Humane Society of Cowlitz County doesn’t have horse facilities but tries to find foster homes for abandoned horses, officials said.
Luckily, Byrnes already had a pasture set up for her own horses. After seeing the one found Monday, she said she just couldn’t say no.
“I’m not going to let those poor things starve,” she said. “I just don’t want to see any more left out there like that.”