Maryland Men Charged in Wild Horse Shooting

A father and son from Maryland are facing charges in connection with the shooting death of a wild horse at the Assateague National Seashore earlier this year.

Two herds of wild horses reside on Assateague Island: One herd resides on the island's Virginia side and the other resides on the Maryland side.

In January a deer hunter discovered a horse carcass while participating in a scheduled two-day hunt on the Maryland side of the island.

Park officials determined that the 28-year-old mare had sustained a gunshot wound and died almost immediately. Assateague National Seashore Rangers and personnel from the National Park Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives subsequently investigated the incident.

Assateague Island National Seashore spokesman Carl Zimmerman said that on Nov. 1 Justin B. Eason, of Easton, and his father, John A. Eason II, of Preston, were issued citations in connection with the incident.

Assateague Island National Seashore Chief Ranger Ted Morlock said Justin B. Eason is charged with four violations including illegal taking of wildlife, use of a weapon that endangers persons or property, destroying living wildlife from its natural state, and knowingly giving a false or fictitious report. The citations allege that he shot and killed the mare during the park's annual public deer hunt, then provided false information to National Park Service investigators, Morlock said. Meanwhile, John Eason II is charged with knowingly giving a false or fictitious report. Each violation carries a minimum sentence of six months incarceration and a $5,000 fine.

Justin B. Eason was unavailable for comment. However, John A. Eason II said the shooting was an accident that occurred when the horse came out of the bushes behind a deer at which Justin Eason was aiming: "Nobody wants to shoot a pony. I made my statements to protect my son."

Both men are expected to appear in court on the charges in late 2011 or early 2012, Zimmerman said.

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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