SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - Two horses were found dead in a creek bed, and officials say their death may have been caused by illegal hunters. The horses lived on a piece of property on Highway 64, just East of Chapel Hill. Their owner reported them missing last week and found them on Saturday in the creek bed. Law enforcement said the horses were spooked, and this led to their tragic death.
Officials said the horses fell through a cattle guard and were then dragged 35 yards down creek.
"Some people think that animals are just animals. A lot of us don't. They are part of our family. When something like this happens to them, it's bad," Trisha Gibson said.
Gibson is friends with the owner of the horses. She said the horses, Chick and Dancer, were 12 years old. Her friend raised them and bred them. Both were pregnant when they died.
"They didn't deserve to die like this," Gibson said.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Game Warden Chris Green said something spooked the horses. Their legs snapped when they fell through the pipes on the bridge.
"The reason we know there are individuals involved is the fact that these horses were hung up on the bridge, and they were moved. It is obvious they were moved," Green said.
Officials said it is unclear what scared the animals and who moved them, but Green said illegal hunters trespassed on the property and left a pop-up hunting blind behind the day the horses were found dead.
"Location is very hard to get to. These horses were actually drug by multiple individuals down this creek. It's a big deal for horse owners. It's a big deal for the Parks and Wildlife," Green said.
Texas Parks and Wildlife is working with The Smith County Sheriff's Department and The Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association on the investigation. The owner of the dead horses moved four remaining horses to a new location.