More than 35 horses have been shot dead in outback Queensland in what police have described as a “horrific” scene.
The horses were found dead on the side of a major road at Yanburra Station, about 60km north of Longreach.
They included mares with foals at foot, pregnant mares, colts and geldings, some with multiple gunshot wounds, police said.
“I’ve been a police officer for 30 plus years and the scene was chaotic, it was horrendous,” detective sergeant Allan Cook told the ABC.
“It’s tourist season at the moment, anyone driving past that road would have seen those carcasses … You’ve got stallions, colts, pregnant mares, aborted foals, they’ve shot the foals at the foot, it’s horrific.”
The animals were discovered along Cramsie Muttaburra Road and are believed to have been killed between Tuesday and Wednesday this week.
Police said they expected to find more dead horses on the 5,000 acre property. They have appealed for anyone who has seen any suspicious activity on the road to come forward.
Cook said incidents like this could have a devastating impact on rural communities.
“That is why the Queensland Police Service is working extremely closely with partner agencies to identify the person or people responsible,” he said in a statement.
“We are strongly appealing to anyone with information to talk to police immediately.”
Police have said the incident does not appear to have been a lawful cull.
The station owner was not at home when the horses were shot. The animals were also not shot in a manner consistent with humane euthanasia.
The Queensland department of agriculture and fisheries is helping police with the investigation. The RSPCA does not have an inspector in Longreach.
A person who works within RSPCA Queensland told Guardian Australia they had never heard of such a large unlawful killing of stock animals.
Anyone who saw any suspicious activity on the station has been asked to call police on 131 444 or contact crimestoppers anonymously on 1800 333 000.