‘This loss is horrific’: Family mourns nursing horse shot and killed in Hilo

The horse's owners blame a pig hunter and say there should be a legal consequence.
Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 10:38 PM HST|Updated: Sep. 21, 2022 at 7:05 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A beloved horse, who gave birth just three months ago, has been shot and killed in Honomu, north Hilo.

The horse’s owners blame a pig hunter and say there should be a legal consequence.

The horse owner’s next-door neighbors tell Hawaii News Now they hired a hunter to control wild pigs that were damaging their property and the shooting was a tragic accident.

Craig Burkholder and his husband Hal Fansler has been taking care of their Friesian Percheron, Onyx since picking her from Wisconsin a few years ago.

Their horse gave birth to her first baby, Uhane this summer. They found Onyx dead Monday morning.

“They were there in the field and when I saw that she was dancing around the mother and I whistled and she never picked her head up, I knew something was wrong,” said Burkholder.

“The saddest part for me, is her innocence has been taken away,” said Fansler. “Like I said, two days ago, she was so happy and all of that has just been just yanked away from her.”

Burkholder said the veterinarian removed a piece of the bullet from Onyx’s body.

He said his neighbor sent a text just before 10 p.m. on Sunday saying the light in their yard is a pig hunter and he’s aware of their horses. Burkholder said he didn’t see the text in time, or he would’ve locked-up the horses.

“Our home was right above where this field is so it’s just such a tragic misjudgment, misjudgment and it could have so easily been avoided,” said Fansler.

It’s unclear exactly when the horse was shot.

But DLNR said unpermitted hunting is illegal at night on public and private property.

Game management experts said adding firearms to the mix is highly dangerous.

“You shouldn’t be using at nighttime guns, especially guns,” said President of the Pig Hunter Association of Oahu, Roy Kaino. “It’s a no, no and that’s just common sense.”

“You should know where the bullets going to go,” said Brian Ley, vice-chairman of the Hawaii County Game Management Advisory Commission.

“That’s why you’re never supposed to shoot anything that’s skylight because you don’t know what’s behind the skylight.”

Onyx’s owners said they haven’t left the foal’s side since her mother died. They filed a police report and are considering legal action.

“If something doesn’t change, it will continue,” said Burkholder. “This reckless, irresponsible behavior is going to continue, and it needs to stop.”

“Aiming that weapon towards our home and our field at night was not an accident,” said Hansler.

The horse’s owners tell Hawaii News Now they’ve been trying to bottle feed the foal but are struggling. They’re now reaching out to other horse owners for help.

A friend of Burkholder and Fansler has organized a GoFundMe for Onyx and Uhane.