Cross-posted from the Billings-Gazette »
by TOM LUTEY
LODGE GRASS — The discovery of up to two dozen horses shot dead and dumped in a field has angered people in this reservation town.
Residents looking for their missing horses several days ago discovered the dead animals in piles in a hay field roughly a mile west of Lodge Grass.
“That was (my) son’s best friend that got killed,” said BethYana Pease-Takes Horse. “He’s the one who found him. He’s had that horse since he was 5.”
Pease-Takes Horse’s son is J’Ree Old Bull. The boy’s horse, named Tank, discovered Feb. 7 piled with two other horses, was the one J’Ree rode in the full-speed Custer Battlefield Trading Post Little Big Horn Re-enactment. Speckled with magpie droppings, Tank and one of the other animals appeared to be recent kills, while the third horse had decomposed down to bare ribs. Less than five yards away was Alanna Kruger’s black filly.
As the women walked the pasture Friday surveying the dead, Kruger spotted a young paint that she’d raised and sold.
“This is the one that I sold to John. John Pretty On Top, the county commissioner,” Kruger said. “I bet he doesn’t know.”
Police from several law enforcement agencies surveyed the area Feb. 11, after complaints about the killings started appearing on Facebook, with photos. There were several tire tracks along an irrigation ditch where four more animals were found. In some cases, the horse’s heads had been cut off. Pease-Takes Horse said the heads were collected by police as evidence.
If wasn’t clear Friday if anyone would be charged with killing the animals. Reservation justice is a jurisdictional potpourri of local, state and federal agencies. Big Horn County Attorney Jay Harris said Friday that he hadn’t seen a report of killings.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs law enforcement did not return phone calls from The Gazette on Friday.