(WARNING: This story contains subject matter and content that may be disturbing for some. Discretion is advised)
HEBER-OVERGAARD, Ariz. (FOX 10) -- Members of a wild horse preservation group in the Heber area are upset. They say seven horses have been shot and killed since January 12.
The latest shooting, according to the group, was on Sunday, when two horses were found dead. They were all found in an area in the Heber area, in the Apache Sitgreaves National Forest.
"Oh my gosh, it makes me sick," said Robin Crawford, in a phone interview. Crawford, who works with the Heber Wild Horse Freedom Preservation, says since January 12, seven wild horses have been shot and killed.
"Four of them were found 400 yards of each other," said Crawford. "One was found a mile away from the other one."
A spokesperson for the Apache Sitgreaves National Forest did confirm the seven horses were found dead, but would not comment on how the horses died, citing an investigation. In the meantime, the wild horse preservation members in Heber are taking action. They started installing game cameras in trees in hopes of capturing on camera whoever might be responsible.
"I just don't understand," said Crawford. "Who would do such a thing and why? What would be the point in it? I mean, I don't understand it."
Meanwhile, Chief Deputy Randy Moffitt with the Navajo County Sheriff's office said it's unclear how they died. He says many of them had been decomposing and other animals fed on them.
Moffitt says his office has no reports of branded horses that are missing, leading authorities to believe the dead horses were wild.
Forest officials are leading the investigation. Marc Thomas with the agency's Southwestern Region said Wednesday that, historically, poor health, predation and motor vehicles have led to horse deaths in the area.
Anyone with information about these horse deaths should contact the Navajo County Sheriff's Office. It's worth noting that the horses are Federally protected.
The Associated Press (AP) contributed to this report.