LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Two wild horse organizations have joined forces to offer a $25,000 reward for the arrest and conviction of the perpetrators who shot and killed more than a dozen horses who live in an Arizona national forest.

Last Wednesday, volunteers discovered 10 dead and four injured horses from the Alpine herd. Since then, five more dead horses have been found, also shot to death. Another 20 horses from the herd are missing and presumed dead, according to a news release from the American Wild Horse Campaign and the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group.

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“The gunmen who are targeting these horses have inflicted enormous suffering on these innocent animals and caused immense trauma to the people who love them,” said Simone Netherlands, President of the SRWHMG, “We are offering this reward on behalf of horse lovers from around the world who are demanding the capture, arrest, and prosecution of the cold-blooded killers who are responsible for this crime.”

The herd of around 400 horses roams the Apache Sitgreaves National Forest in eastern Arizona, near the New Mexico border, and is at the center of a dispute between wild horse advocacy groups and the federal government.

The federal government considers the horses feral, not wild, meaning at some point they belonged to people. Because of that designation, they are not protected under the 1971 Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act.

The wild horse advocacy groups are calling for state or federal legislation to protect the horses. They believe the horse herd is historic and has been in the area since the time of the first explorers.

“The perpetrators of this heinous crime must be brought to justice swiftly and the historic Alpine wild horses must be granted protection, not only from killing and abuse but also from the Forest Service and its plan to eradicate them from the Apache National Forest.” Said Suzanne Roy, Executive Director of the AWHC.

The U.S. Forest Service is removing the horses from the area because of a lawsuit that said the horses were destroying the habitat used by the meadow jumping mouse which is near extinction. About 80 horses have been removed and most auctioned off.

A third group, Animal Wellness Action, also contributed to the reward.