DARBY, Mont. -

A legislative candidate from Darby says someone intentionally opened a pasture gate, allowing his 35 horses to escape onto the highway and eventually into town.

Scott Boulanger says he received a call from a dispatcher at 4 a.m. Thursday saying he had horses on the highway.

Boulanger says it takes two hands to open the gate and that the gate was pushed into the pasture.

Boulanger is a hunting outfitter who supports increased harvest levels on all predators, especially wolves. Some of his campaign signs have been defaced and Boulanger believes releasing the horses could be related to his candidacy.

Ravalli County Sheriff Chris Hoffman says he doesn't know if freeing the horses was a political statement, but says someone could have been hurt.