MADERA -- An anonymous donor has offered a $10,000 cash reward for information leading to whoever fatally shot two horses last weekend in a foothill pasture beside Highway 41.
Madera County Sheriff John Anderson said Wednesday that the donor called him at home to make the offer. Anderson said several people have approached him since the mares were reported shot Monday to express outrage.
"I'm upset," said Anderson, who doesn't own a horse. "We hate to think that there's somebody in our community who would do something like that. I don't know what kind of a thrill they'd get out of it."
Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Erica Stuart said Wednesday that an anonymous tipster reported seeing as many as four people carrying rifles Saturday afternoon in a pasture on Highway 41 just above the Yosemite Lakes Park turnoff. One of the rifle carriers was wearing an orange vest, the tipster told deputies.
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Investigators at first calculated from the condition of the carcasses that the horses had been shot late Friday or early Saturday. The horses in the 40-acre pasture were standing 100 to 150 feet from the roadway. One was hit in the head, the other in the neck.
Investigators now think that the horses may have been shot as late as Saturday night, Stuart said.
Holly Subia, owner of the mares, said that someone could have shot the animals from Highway 41 using a spotlight to illuminate the eyes in the darkness. That would account for the head wounds, she said.
The mares, named Daisy and Rosie, were in the pasture with another horse that wasn't harmed. The mares that were shot were the personal riding animals of Subia and her husband.
Subia said Wednesday that she and her husband don't fear for their own safety, but she has "a little fear of putting horses back out there."