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The Sanpete Messenger

More cattle shootings prompt reward offer

A 600-pound calf lies in the Twelve-Mile Canyon, where a shooter left the carcass to rot.

More cattle shootings prompt reward offer

By Ben Lasster

Staff writer

8-27-2020

A $20,000 reward is being offered for information regarding the shooting and disappearance of three cattle in Twelve-Mile Canyon and two in the Manti Canyon.

A Mayfield rancher lost two of his cattle to shootings earlier this month, one cow and a calf. A second calf, the offspring of the dead adult cow is now missing as well.

The carcasses were found on Sunday, Aug. 16 near the Beaver Creek drainage in an ATV trail area about nine miles up the canyon from Mayfield, said owner Eric Lyman of Lyman Livestock.

The adult cow was found near a popular lookout spot, and the calf was found a couple miles away next to fresh tire tracks. The carcasses were discovered in a large pasture where they had been grazing.

“This is senseless killing, and it needs to stop,” Lyman said. “We’re willing to pay rewards, and we just ask people to keep their eyes open and report anything that looks funny to the authorities.”

The following Tuesday, a hunter found two calves belonging to Manti cattleman Russell Faatz of Faatz Livestock lying dead in the Manti Canyon. It was clear that a bullet had killed one calf, while the other could have been by gunshot or bow and arrow, Faatz said. In the past decade, he said he has heard of more animals slain in their pastures by the latter.

“This year, the shootings have really picked up,” he said. “If people need the meat, that’s one thing, but to let it sit there and rot, that’s just stupid.”

The Central Utah Cattlemen’s Association is offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the people responsible for either case. This comes in part as an effort to stem a recent pattern of animal shootings going unsolved in Sanpete County and the state.

“With the way the cattle industry is right now, it is a big [financial] hit” to lose cattle, said Jarvis Sorenson of the Gunnison-Mayfield Cattlemen’s Association. He said the value of each cow is around $900 and up.

The Lyman cattle case recalls a similar crime in Mayfield in October, 2019 on the Mark Mecham family ranch, where a prized Longhorn bull and Black Angus steer calf were found shot to death.

Earlier this year in April, Ephraim rancher Tom Lund discovered five of his sheep dead and left to rot in a pasture. The Sanpete County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the sheep to have died from gunshot wounds.

“I don’t know if someone was hunting and just decided to go and do this,” Lund said at the time. “Somebody who would do something like this is obviously sick, and they probably need some help.”

Utah Department of Agriculture and Food Industry Director Leann Hunting said since April, 19 Utah livestock animals have died in their fields by gunshot. She said all of the cases she referenced have remained unsolved, but that “it’s hard to believe they were stray bullets.”

For the Gunnison-Mayfield Cattlemen’s Association, these events allude to a bigger problem going on than just “senseless killing.” Sorenson said people meddling with animals have been effectively robbing livestock from owners.

Four weeks prior to the killing of Lyman’s cattle, a group of people passing through Middle Mountain found a newborn calf of the Lyman’s that they perceived had been abandoned. They captured it and took it home, believing they were doing something benevolent.

The newborn was not abandoned, though. According to Sorenson, its mother had simply left it in a place hidden from potential predators while she went grazing. He said cows, like many other species, hide their young from predators while they feed somewhere nearby. Mother cows will attack potential threats to their young ferociously, he said.

“We would just like to educate the public,” he said. “Don’t mess with a baby calf. You could get hurt. You may not see them, but they’re not too far away. It is very dangerous to mess with nature’s young, either it be wildlife or domestic wildlife.”

Not only is it dangerous for people, Sorenson said, but for the livestock too. The calf taken recently from Lyman’s herd was injured. It will now have to grow up in a veterinarian program, Sorensen said.

“Just leave our animals alone,” Lyman said.

To report information about the Lyman Livestock shootings or any suspicious activity relating to these stories, call the Sanpete County Sheriff’s Office at 835-2192 or Leann Hunting at 801-982-2383.

The Central Utah Cattlemen’s Association offers a $20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for livestock shootings in the region.