HOKKAIDO (TR) – Hokkaido Prefectural Police are investigating the shooting death of two race horses on a breeding farm in the town of Niikappu, reports NHK (Feb. 28).
At 7:00 a.m. on Sunday, an employee at the Keiyu Farm discovery of the dead thoroughbreds with wounds to the head and abdomen. Officers from the Shizunai Police Station arriving at the scene found four empty cartridges, possibly from a rifle, near one of the horses.
Both animals were one-year-old males. Neither had made its racing debut.
From Saturday afternoon until Sunday morning, the pair had been scheduled for grazing on the farm. The horses were seen alive on Saturday evening. However, at approximately 9:00 p.m. an employee heard the sound of gunshots.
Citizens in the neighboring area have been using hunting rifles to exterminate sika deer due to the destruction of vegetation. Police believe that the death of the horses could have been the result of a citizen mistaking them for deer.