The Callaway County Sheriff's Office is seeking the owner of three horses found running loose near Williamsburg Thursday.
Although he could not say for certain that the horses had been abandoned rather than having escaped from a nearby farm, Sgt. Bill Akers said the former has become "a growing problem" in Callaway County and across the state.
"Because of the horse market having little or no value and feed costs going up astronomically, people are turning them loose, taking them to other horsemen's gates and tying them up and walking away," Akers said.
With cattle prices still high, he said the problem of abandoned livestock has primarily been with horses, although the sheriff's office still is trying to find the owner of some cattle left in an area farmer's field.
Akers said such incidents would potentially fall under animal abuse and neglect.
"We don't file charges every time an animal gets loose, but we do documentation, and if it's a continuous issue then we take action," he said.