News and Press Releases

Pershing County Men Plead Guilty to Killing Wild Horses

June 16, 2010

Reno, Nev. – Two Pershing County men pleaded guilty in federal court today to killing multiple wild horses in November 2009 on federally-managed lands in northern Nevada, announced Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.

"The intentional and malicious harassment, abuse and killing of federally-protected wild horses should not and will not be tolerated," said U.S. Attorney Bogden. "As this case demonstrates, our office will fully pursue and prosecute criminal violations to the fullest extent provided by the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971."

Todd Davis, 44, and Joshua Keathley, 36, both of Lovelock, Nevada, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert A. McQuaid, Jr., to a criminal information charging them with maliciously harassing, shooting and killing five wild, free-roaming horses on November 28, 2009, in the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Buckhorn Horse Management Area of Northern Washoe County, Nevada. The defendants were charged with the killings on March 10, 2010, and they pleaded guilty today to the charges as filed. There were no plea negotiations and no plea agreement.

According to the court records, on or about November 28, 2009, Davis and Keathley drove to Northern Washoe County to look for locations to set traps. Davis, who was driving, stopped when he saw eight to 10 wild horses. Davis and Keathley exited the vehicle, and Keathley shot one light-colored horse with an AR-15 rifle and observed the horse fall to the ground. Keathley then handed the rifle to Davis, and Davis shot at the rest of the horses and saw approximately three horses fall. Davis and Keathley shot and killed a total of five wild, free-roaming horses. Prior to leaving the scene, Keathley picked up eight to 10 spent ammunition casings.

Judge McQuaid set sentencing for the defendants for September 14, 2010, at 2:00 p.m. The defendants face up to one year in prison and a $100,000 fine.

The investigation was conducted by BLM's Office of Law Enforcement and Security California State Office in Redding, California, with the assistance of the Lovelock Police Department, the Washoe County Sheriff's Office, the Washoe County Forensic Services Division, the Nevada Department of Wildlife, and the California Department of Fish and Game. The Humane Society of the United States and the State of Nevada Commission for the Preservation of Wild Horses also contributed to the investigation.

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