by MEGAN CASSIDY
Cross-posted from the Casper Star-Tribune
Wade Werbelow has some horsehair to find.
After reading recent reports that the incidents of tail clippings had seeped into Fremont and Sweetwater counties, in addition to Natrona and Converse, Werbelow decided it was time to talk to local law enforcement. Instead, they called him first.
“I just pretty much started my investigation this morning,” said Werbelow, an inspector for the Wyoming Livestock Board, on Wednesday. “We’re basically going to get a hold of all the counties that have incidents, gather information, keep track of it, and see what we come up with.”
Werbelow said officials from the affected counties tentatively plan to meet next week and discuss any similarities in the recent events. The current ticker hovers near 100, with Natrona County shouldering the bulk of the shears at 61 horses. About 30 have been reported in Converse County, eight to 10 in Fremont and two in Sweetwater, according to authorities in the respective locations. Media reports indicated three more horses were cut in Campbell County earlier this month.
Pat Raia, equine welfare reporter for The Horse, said she reported on a few incidents in Massachusetts last year, but many assumed it was a local artist who used the hair to create his or her craft.
“If somebody’s stealing it in bulk, they’re probably selling it,” she said.
Following the final 2007 closures of U.S. horse slaughtering plants, byproducts such as tails have waned in recent years, and many reputable horsetail sellers have shifted their focus to overseas suppliers.
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