Folks at the Fort Lewis public affairs office say they’re starting to get a little suspicious about a rumor that keeps coming back to them that someone had released numerous horses onto the post’s training range and that soldiers had shot them all.
“Somebody out there is spreading this rumor,” spokesman Joe Piek said Friday. “There is absolutely no truth to it.”
We got a call Friday morning from a woman who said she’d heard it from a local horse person, and directed us to a local veterinarian for confirmation. The vet said he knew nothing about any such report.
A Fort Lewis spokeswoman said the rumor first reached the post June 2, when an Eastern Washington wire service reporter working on a story about rising hay prices called to check it out. The reporter said she’d heard it from a truck driver.
Then Thursday, a reporter from an area weekly called the post and asked about it.
Post spokeswoman Catherine Caruso said she checked with range control officers and with investigators who track the post’s extensive illegal dumping problem. No horse sightings.
“We have not had any reports of any horses – feral, abandoned, whatever – on Fort Lewis in quite some time,” Caruso said.
The post for years has permitted a variety of recreational uses of its 70,000+ acres of training lands, and local equestrian clubs are among the biggest users.
The apparent theory behind the rumor is that with rising hay prices, some horse owners can no longer afford to feed their animals, so they abandon them.
But Caruso said nobody at Lewis has heard of a stray on post since at least the 1980s.
“We definitely have not shot any horses,” she said.