Ten horses found dead in Salt Lake County
Probe • Questions arise about whether animals had adequate water.

By Michael McFall

The Salt Lake Tribune

Published: July 19, 2014 03:50PM
Updated: July 19, 2014 12:35PM
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Scott Sommerdorf | The Salt Lake Tribune Unified police search a field where at least nine horse were found to be abandoned without water on Friday. Many of them died before help could reach them.

Officers are investigating the deaths of ten horses found in a Magna field.

The horses were found in a private, fenced-off field near Pleasant Green Cemetery, which is near 3500 S. 9200 West. After searching the field with trucks and a helicopter, officers found one alive and 10 dead, according to officials.

“It looks like they just don’t have any water,” said Unified Police Detective Ken Hansen.

The owner arrived at the field and was trying to hydrate the surviving horse, Hansen said.

Kennecott, which owns the land, leases it to Erda Livestock, said Kennecott spokesman Kyle Bennett.

Dennis Morgan, whose back fence borders the field, normally sees the horses running about for one to two months a year before the owners move them elsewhere. But lately, he hadn’t seen them for a couple weeks, and when he started to smell “something foul” and saw vultures descend into the field, he went up to the cemetery to find out what happened.

That’s where he saw two of the horses topple and fall, he said.

“To see this, it’s horrible,” said Morgan, who called for help. “It’s horrible to allow these beautiful animals to die like this.”

The horses come and go from the property, with enough time in the interim for the grass to grow back, Morgan said. A water tank normally arrives to refill the horse’s trough, but Morgan could not recall seeing the delivery this year.

Besides a trough, the field has a spigot — but no water was coming out of it, Hansen said.

About 8 p.m., Unified Police returned to the field with Sheriff Jim Winder and the mounted posse to continue their search for more horses, as well as document the water resources. Based on what a witness told them, officers believe there might be a few more horses in the area.

High temperatures reached 96 degrees Friday, according to the National Weather Service.

mmcfall@sltrib.com

Twitter: @mikeypanda