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BOX ELDER COUNTY, Utah — There is a disturbing development on several Utah ranches over the last couple of weeks. Somebody is shooting and killing Utah cattle, and ranchers are putting up a cash reward to catch the culprits. It’s not the kind of crime that happens often, but ranchers in four different counties had cattle killed during the last several weeks.
“This is their livelihood, said Kerry W. Gibson, commissioner of the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food. “When our farmers and ranchers turn their cows out on the range, it’s a piece of property that means an awful lot to them, and there’s value to that.”
Four Utah ranchers recently discovered cattle that had been shot and killed.
“The big bull, they shot him in the head,” Mark Mecham told KSL NewsRadio. He said someone shot his longhorn bull, valued around $5,000, and a calf two weeks ago on his ranch in Mayfield.
At the time the animals were shot, he was at the hospital with his wife who was delivering a baby.
“We get a lot of people through here,” he said referring to his rural road in Sanpete County. “It will be hard to pinpoint anything. It’s just going to be really difficult to track somebody down.”
Ranchers in Utah County, Iron County, and Box Elder County also had cattle killed in just the last week. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there are approximately 800,000 head of cattle in Utah with an average value of nearly $1300 each.
“It’s really a terrible thing when people disrespect these animals and these ranchers and their way of life,” said Gibson.
The Utah Commissioner of Agriculture and Food said it is are offering a $2,000 reward along with the Utah Farm Bureau and Utah Cattlemen’s Association. When somebody kills the cattle, that essentially destroys the ranchers’ assets.
“That takes away their ability to feed their families, and support our local communities,” said Gibson.
One of the perplexing aspects about these killings is that they happened in different parts of the state.
“We would not assume that they are connected,” said Gibson.
The commissioner said there have been cattle killings like this over the years, but it’s unusual to have this many in a short period of time.
“That makes it even more important to let the community know that this is unacceptable,” he said.
Killing these cattle is a felony. Report any suspicious activity to the local sheriff.