Cattlemen pony up reward to stop killing of stock

Published 10:48 pm Saturday, October 4, 2008

Growing concern about the unnatural death of cattle in the Pike County area has prompted the Pike County Cattlemen’s Association to offer a $1,000 reward to stop the culprits.

Johnny Garrett, Cattlemen’s president, said the recent shooting death of a couple of cows and the undetermined deaths of three other cows and two calves are cause for concern among area cattlemen.

“Back several years ago, we had a problem with cows being killed,” Garrett said. “Those who were responsible were caught and held responsible. We don’t want anybody who deliberately kills cattle to get away with it.”

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In late July, two of Jessie Dorrill’s cows died within hours of each other and for no apparent reason.

“I found them down and one died rather quickly,” Dorrill said. “We were able to get the other one up and thought it might make it, but it died too.”

Dorrill was suspicious of the cause of death so he took the cows to the Department of Agriculture’s lab in Elba. It was determined that the cows had been shot.

“That was a surprise to me because there was no visible bullet entry wound and there was no blood,” he said. “They had been shot with a small caliber rifle and the bullet went in clean and didn’t leave a mark. If the bullet had come out of the cow, there would have been signs, but as it was I had no reason to think they had been shot.”

Dorrill said the cows had been shot several days earlier and died from the infection within the wound.

The other cows and calves that recently died from what was thought to be natural causes could have died from just that – natural causes.

“But, then there’s no way to know unless the cows are tested at a state lab,” Garrett said. That is why the Cattlemen’s Association is encouraging owners to seek forensic testing if any of their herd is found dead.

“There are four labs in the state and two of them are nearby – in Elba and Auburn. The testing is free and it’s good to have it done anytime a cow or calf dies for no apparent reason.”

Garrett said there is always the possibility of disease and one that could be spread to other animals in the herd.

“If a cow has a disease, I would think a producer would want to know it just in case it is something that could spread,” he said. “And, certainly, if cows are being shot, we want to know that. The state labs are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. So, I would strongly encourage any cattleman that cows died with any apparent reason, to have them tested. It’s worth the time and effort to do so.”

The telephone numbers for the state labs are 334-844-4987 in Auburn and 334-897-6340 in Elba.

The cattlemen’s reward for anyone who is arrested and convicted of killing the cattle of any member of the association is one way that the cattlemen are letting the public know that they are serious about protecting their herds.