Lawmaker demands answers in horse, mule deaths

FRESNO, Calif.

The animals were found on the Pixley National Wildlife Refuge last week. The park service says the horses died from a water system failure.

Congressman Devin Nunes can't seem to get a straight answer about what happened in his district.

Seven mules and two horses owned by the National Park Service, and used in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, were being wintered in the Pixley National Wildlife Refuge.

At some point someone realized there was a failure in the water system. Those nine animals died, a few others were rushed to a vet.

Devin Nunes said, "The irony in all of it, is here you have the park service that has done everything they possibly can to keep private horses and mules out of the park, so much so that we actually had to run legislation."

The legislation was just signed into law. Private companies will be allowed to contract horses and mules out, in the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park through 2014. But as for the nine dead animals, they belonged to the government.

"If any other private citizen did this they would have the potential to be arrested and be prosecuted," Nunes said. "And here you have government running amuck when they're trying to hide from it and keep it from the public when they're supposed to be representing the public."

Beth Caffrey said, "We've gotten more horses in one year than we had in 30 years."

The Central California SPCA says in many of those cases, the animals are left without food and water for days on end. Beth Caffrey and the employees at the CCSPCA religiously check their water supply. A simple power outage can leave the animals without hydration.

"You're dealing with hosing systems," Caffrey said. "Something can get clenched or clogged or something else can happen."

Congressman Nunes is hoping someone saw something. "I'm hoping the public will come to my office with information on these animals."

The National Park Service has turned the entire investigation over to the Tulare County Sheriff's Office.

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