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Jun 27, 2012 10:48 AM

Sahuarita Police warn residents to stay away from wild horses

SAHUARITA, Ariz.- The Sahuarita Police Department is pleading with residents of Rancho Sahuarita to stay away from a corral recently set up to capture wild horses.

The plea comes just days after someone purposely knocked the corral gates down. "All the neighbors think someone put the corral there and they're letting their horses roam around the neighborhood," Resident Scott Gulas says.

But make no mistake. The Arizona Department of Agriculture, along with the Sahuarita Police Department set the corral up last week to catch five wild horses roaming the neighborhood. "These are wild horses and when they're spooked they will kick, bite and stomp you," Officer Sam Almodova says.

A couple days after the corral was set up, someone came and knocked the gates down. "They thought they'd come in, be smart, knock them down, leave a note from "papa horse" saying, 'we're smarter than you'," Officer Almodova says.

The corral has since been repaired, but the incident is raising concerns about why someone would want to get in the way of capturing wild horses. "If a person hits a horse with a car going at least 25 to 30 mph, it can be very devastating to the horse and the person inside that car," Officer Almodova says.

In fact, News 4 Tucson's Samantha Ptashkin almost witnessed that type of accident first hand. She was out shooting video of the corral, when one of the horses came into view and was nearly run over by a car, as it crossed a street.

"I like the fact that they're here," Resident Cathy Hutson says. "I think they're beautiful."

But Hutson knows it's not safe. "I'm afraid that small children might get hurt," Hutson says.

"People are walking up to them with their dogs, trying to pet them," Gulas says.

It's an innocent act, but one that Officer Almodova says could turn dangerous. The corral will stay up until the horses are caught.

News 4 Tucson has learned there are now only four horses on the loose. DPS Officer Raul Molina says one of them had to be put down, after it was galloping in and out of traffic along I-19 and couldn't be caught. Molina says officers feared for drivers' safety.

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