Police say a foal found with multiple lacerations on Dartmoor had been “deliberately mutilated”.
The 2-month-old foal was discovered on moorland at Yennadon Down, Dousland Yelverton at around on Tuesday (23 July).
Police told H&H that the foal had had its ear cut off, its genitalia cut off and its eye removed.
Andy Oliver from West Devon Police told H&H: “This was a particularly nasty and distressing incident.
“We are keeping an open mind but there has been some evidence to suggest it may have been killed in a ritualistic manner.
“It looks like there were some [burn] marks on the grass,” he explained.
The charity South West Equine Protection is concerned that Dartmoor ponies are now easy targets as they have become used to be being fed by humans.
A spokesman for the charity said: “We do not know if the desecration and mutilation of this foal took place when he was alive or once he was dead or how many people were involved.
“Either way it is criminal damage as the foal is owned by someone.
“If the foal was still alive and not properly sedated these action would have caused extreme pain, suffering and distress.”
There have been 3 other reports of similar attacks on horses and ponies in the area during the last 12 months.
Police are urging anyone who has any information about the incident to contact them on 101 quoting log 918 of 23/07/13 or call Crimsteoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.