Pair of horses shot near gun range

Police are investigating the shooting of two horses west of Penhold early Sunday evening.

Police are investigating the shooting of two horses west of Penhold early Sunday evening.

Carolyn Nienhuis, who rents a portion of her property to the horses’ owner, said the woman had gone out to check on them at 6 p.m. and they were fine. When she returned to feed them an hour later, one horse had been grazed and another had a bullet imbedded in its nose.

A veterinarian who examined the animals said the bullet appeared to be from a .22-calibre rifle, Nienhuis said on Monday.

It would not likely have been a deer hunter, because they use larger rounds, she said.

Nienhuis believes the bullets came from a neighbouring rifle range operated by the Red Deer Fish and Game Association.

“We’ve tried to have it shut down from ricochet bullets for years,” said Nienhuis.

“There was people down at the gun range all day. My daughter did see the vehicles and she gave me the description of three vehicles that had come out in between 5:30 and 7 o’clock last night.”

Staff Sgt. Gord Glasgow, head of the Red Deer Rural RCMP, said it would be a mistake to make any assumptions about who shot the horses and where they were shooting from without benefit of a thorough investigation.

An officer went to the farm on Monday afternoon and is still conducting an investigation, said Glasgow.

“We need to do an investigation before we jump to conclusions,” he said.

Ric Henderson, director of community and protective services for Red Deer County, said he would hope there was nobody attempting to shoot targets after dark. Like Glasgow, he said it would be a mistake to make assumptions before police have been able to conduct their investigation.

Rob McCoy, who is in charge of operating the run range, said he doesn’t know whether it would be possible to fire a .22 round over the 26-metre embankment and have it ricochet back down to the area in which the horses are pastured.

“I don’t know where the horses were.”

According to the sign-in sheet, the last member left the rifle range at 5:30 p.m. There may have been someone else there who didn’t sign in, but members would normally have stopped shooting because the sun would have set just before 5:00, said McCoy.

He has given the police the name of the person who was last to sign out on Sunday.

The Fish and Game Association first established its gun range at the abandoned gravel pit in 1972. The concept was to provide a safe and controlled site for target practice, he said. Membership includes prominent and responsible local figures, including doctors and lawyers, he said.

McCoy said he wants to determine whether or not the rifle range played a role in Sunday’s shooting and, if so, what could have been done to prevent it.

“We are very concerned about this and we are going to talk to the people in question. We have a sign-in thing out there, so we are going to talk to our people. We do take this very seriously and we’re trying our best to do something about it.”

bkossowan@bprda.wpengine.com

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