GEORGE COUNTY, Miss. (WKRG) – A nonprofit group focused on protecting animals and wildlife is offering a reward for information that leads to the conviction of the person(s) responsible for killing three horses in George and Greene counties.
Organizers of Help Asheville Bears posted the reward after seeing the WKRG story on Monday, Jan. 23.
“When we saw there were the three horses killed, we had to do something,” said Jody Williams, the organization’s founder. “All it takes for evil to prevail is for good men and women to do nothing. So we need to stand up for our nature, our wildlife, so that we can all enjoy it for future generations.”
A $5,000 reward is available to anyone with information about the three horses killed. The group’s anonymous tip line is 855-SOS-BEAR (855-767-2327).
Two horses were killed in Greene County in October 2022 and one in George County’s Central community on Jan. 6. Investigators with the Mississippi Agricultural & Livestock Theft Bureau believe all were shot from the road at night, likely by hunters targeting deer. Other scenarios have not been ruled out.
“Headlighting” — using lights that will reflect off of the eyes of a deer in the dark — is illegal in Mississippi. Anyone convicted of the crime can be fined up to $500, sentenced to six months in jail and have hunting privileges revoked for at least three years.
Shooting livestock is a separate felony offense which could result in up to five years in jail and fines up to $10,000.
Help Asheville Bears began in 2019 when a black bear, they call Peaches, and her cubs that lived near Williams’ house went missing for four weeks and returned with half of a limb gone. At the same time, another bear was found less than two miles away with a missing leg.
Williams and the group started seeking tips to identify people setting traps in the area to poach the bears. Tips started pouring in. Within a year, it had already given $80,000 in rewards.
“Trapping is cruel, it’s archaic, barbaric. It’s lazy. We just fight against cruelty. We hate trapping. We’re not against hunting, that’s legal, but poaching ruins it for everybody. It ruins it for the hunter that waits all year to do this right, and spends all that money maybe on a land lease or other equipment. And it also ruins it for the nature watcher because these people are out here killing relentlessly,” Williams said.
In North Carolina, hunters with permits can kill one black bear per season, with limitations. Poachers often go over the limit and kill the bears illegally and inhumanely.
The group has successfully petitioned Amazon to take hundreds of leghold and snare traps off the market and is working to limit access to bear attractants. The volunteers have also gone through numerous states to save bears, dogs, eagles, elk, owls and other wildlife from traps.
Private funding to offer rewards for information on animal killings, and one posting to identify the people who shot a woman experiencing homelessness in the face with an airsoft gun, have led to over a dozen convictions.
“I’ve seen family turn in family because it was the right thing to do. These animals don’t have a voice. We’ve got to stand up and fight. Give us a call, then we’ll work with our investigators and the law enforcement there, keep you anonymous. We’ll do our best to get these people busted and you get a reward,” Williams said.
Tips can also be sent on the organization’s website: https://helpashevillebears.org/report-a-tip/.