Authorities find 15 horses fatally shot in eastern Kentucky

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FILE – In this June 29, 2018 file photo, wild horses drink from a watering hole outside Salt Lake City. A Senate panel has approved $35 million for a new wild horse initiative backed by animal welfare groups and the livestock industry but condemned by the largest mustang protection coalition that says it would put the free-roaming animals on a path to extinction. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

PRESTONSBURG, Ky. (AP) — At least 15 horses have been fatally shot at a strip mine site in eastern Kentucky, authorities said.

The horses were found on a site along U.S. 23 near the Floyd-Pike County line, WYMT-TV reported Tuesday. A $500 reward is being offered for information on the shootings.

Tonya Conn with Dumas Rescue, an animal rescue group, said the dead horses were scattered over a large area and it appears they were hunted.

“Seeing them gunned down is … beyond horrific,” Conn said.

Authorities said some of the horses were young and some were pregnant.

“This is very inhumane and it’s a very cruel act of somebody who just apparently had nothing else to do or whatever just to go back on a strip job and shoot down horses who were, one of them obviously was feeding, had grass in its mouth,” Floyd County Sheriff John Hunt said. “It looked like a battlefield for just horses.”

Hunt said the person responsible could face animal cruelty charges at a minimum.

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