• Kyodo

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Two men were arrested Thursday for allegedly shooting to death two racehorses and wounding another while hunting in Mitsuishi, Hokkaido.

Yozo Yamazaki, 62, and Shigeo Iida, 51, both experienced hunters, told police they thought the horses were deer. The incident occurred early Wednesday.

The men, from Ibaraki Prefecture, were arrested on suspicion of violating a wildlife protection law that forbids hunting with guns between dusk and dawn, police said.

At around 5:40 a.m. Wednesday, Yamazaki and Iida fired seven shots at the three racehorses from a truck parked near a farm, police said. The horses had been let out to exercise.

One of the thoroughbreds killed was an offspring of 1996 Tenno-sho winner Bubble Gum Fellow, a stallion sired by Sunday Silence, a former Kentucky Derby winner and one of the leading sires in Japanese horse racing, police said.

The surviving racehorse sustained severe injuries and is expected to be destroyed, police said.

The damage caused by the loss of the three horses is estimated at 75 million yen.

Yamazaki and Iida have visited Mitsuishi annually for several years to hunt deer. They arrived in Hokkaido on Sunday, accompanied by another hunter, according to police.

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