The strange case of dozens of horses across France mutilated and killed

Since the start of August, dozens of cases have been reported of horses across France being mutilated or even killed. Panicked horse owners are setting up patrols but what is happening with the case?

The strange case of dozens of horses across France mutilated and killed
At least 22 horses have been attacked since August. Illustration photo: AFP

What has been reported?

Since the beginning of August 2020 at least 22 cases have been reported of horses and ponies being found by their owners mutilated or dead after being attacked in their fields.

There is no definitive list of attacks, but the French newspaper Libération's Check News site has counted 22 cases since the start of August by tallying police reports and local media coverage. In total the paper found 36 cases dating from November 27th 2017 until September 3rd 2020, but the data shows a massive uptick in cases from the start of August.

Where is this happening?

Cases have been reported across France, with 20 départements seeing cases over the summer.


Is it one person?

The police say no. This is partly due to the wide geographical area that is covered in a short space of time. For example between August 27th and 31st there were four reported cases, the first in Finistère in Brittany, the next in Jura next to the Swiss border, then in Allier in south west France and the fourth case in Île-et-Villaine back in Brittany – a total distance covered of more than 2,500km.

There is also differences in the type of mutilations, while some horses seem to have been slashed anywhere with knives others have had their eyes targeted and many have had ears cut or removed. Some horses, mainly mares, have also received genital mutilations.

As to why it is happening there is no shortage of theories from Satantic rituals to some kind of sick online challenge, but at present nobody knows.

Is it only horses?

Until now only cases involving horses or ponies had been reported but on September 3rd an alpaca was found dead in its field in the southern département of Lot-et-Garonne field, with one ear cut off.

What's being done about it?

Several different police forces are investigating and one horse owner in the Yonne département has managed to produce an e-fit portrait of a man who attacked him and mutilated several of his horses.

The efit of the suspect. Photo: Gendarmerie de l'Yonne

The Office central de lutte contre les atteintes à l'environnement et à la santé publique (Office for environmental and public health violations) is also taking an overview of the cases at a national level.

But many owners are so worried that they have stopped letting their horses graze at night while some have even been mounting their own patrols.

The maximum penalty in France for serious abuse or cruelty to an animal is two years in jail and a €30,000 fine.

Member comments

  1. If the Gendarmes ever turned up in under an hour to reported cases/trespassers on fields they may start apprehending people. So far that has not happened and horse owners up here are frightened. They are starting to take action directly which they have been reprimanded for, but with all but invisible law enforcement, who can blame them?

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French justice minister faces trial on conflict of interest charge

France's justice minister has been ordered to stand trial in a conflict of interest case that has embarrassed President Emmanuel Macron's government, his lawyers said on Monday.

French justice minister faces trial on conflict of interest charge

His lawyers said they had immediately lodged an appeal to block the move.

Eric Dupond-Moretti, a former star defence lawyer, was last year charged with misusing his position to settle scores with opponents from his legal career, becoming the first sitting French justice minister to be charged in a legal probe.

The accusations relate to administrative inquiries into three judges. The three had ordered police in 2014 to pore through the phone records of dozens of lawyers and magistrates, including Dupond-Moretti, as part of an investigation into former president Nicolas Sarkozy.

The judiciary accused Dupond-Moretti of a witch-hunt.

He denied the allegations, saying he was merely acting on the recommendations of his staff to investigate possible mistakes by the magistrates who oversaw the seizures of the phone records.

The order to stand trial was issued by the investigation commission of the Law Court of the Republic in Paris (CJR), which hears cases of alleged wrongdoing by serving ministers.

But his lawyers, Christophe Ingrain and Remi Lorrain, said they had already appealed against the move.

“The order no longer exists,” they told reporters as they exited the CJR building.

Dupond-Moretti was not present.