A group of wild horses have been found apparently shot to death in Nevada, and investigators are looking into the possibility that the case could be linked to the debate over the future of mustangs in the West.

U.S. Bureau of Land Management spokesman John Dearing says five horses died of apparent gunshot wounds, while the cause of death of a sixth horse nearby was unknown.

The bodies were found Saturday on public land along the Nevada-California border in Washoe County, about 120 miles north of Reno. Authorities believe the animals had been dead for about two weeks.

Dearing says investigators haven't determined a motive so far, but would consider the possibility the case stems from heated controversy over a plan to round up and relocate thousands of wild horses.