A bigger reward was offered for any information leading to the capture of poachers responsible for killing dozens of wild donkeys near the Californian-Nevada border on Aug. 22.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is offering up to $18,500 for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for slaughtering 42 wild burros in the Clark Mountain Herd Area of the Mojave National Preserve in San Bernardino County.
“We welcome the public’s help to bring the perpetrator or perpetrators to justice,” BLM Deputy Director for Policy and Programs William Perry Pendley said in a statement. “Wild horses and burros are an iconic part of the American West, and part of our national heritage … we will pursue every lead until we’ve arrested and prosecuted those responsible for these cruel, savage deaths.”
The decision to increase the reward came after the American Wild Horse Campaign, Return to Freedom Wild Horse Conservation, and Cloud Foundation offered $8,500 in reward money for anyone who could help shed light on why so many decomposing wild burro carcasses were discovered since May along the Interstate 15 corridor between Halloran Springs, California, and Primm, Nevada.
The animals are federally protected under the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, which protects them from capture, branding, harassment, or death. Anyone found guilty of wilfully violating the Act can be fined up to $2,000 and/or be imprisoned for up to a year for each count charged.
“We hope that an increase in the reward will lead to arrest and conviction for these cruel acts,” American Wild Horse Campaign Executive Director Suzanne Roy said in a statement. “The persons who shot these innocent and beloved burros deserve to be brought to justice.”
Return to Freedom hopes that raising the reward will encourage witnesses to “step forward.”
“It’s our plan to raise this reward in hopes that someone will step forward with information that will help law enforcement end these senseless killings,” Return to Freedom President Neda DeMayo said in a statement. “These cruel and hostile acts against federally protected animals strike at the heart of everyone working so hard for their protection and for humane, non-lethal solutions to management concerns.”
BLM’s law enforcement team is leading the investigation with assistance from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, California Highway Patrol, and California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
“We want to thank our law enforcement for their assistance and support of this investigation and we are grateful for the willingness of the American Wild Horse Campaign, Return to Freedom and The Cloud Foundation to step up and offer their own rewards to help solve this heinous crime,” Pendley said.
Anyone with information is encouraged to phone the WeTip hotline at 800-782-7463 or visit www.wetip.com
Callers can remain anonymous and still receive a reward.