Law enforcement agencies in three Utah counties, including Box Elder, are investigating after at least four head of cattle were found shot to death in different locations around the state.
A press release from the Box Elder County Sheriff’s Office on Friday, Oct. 25 stated that Jay Tanner, a rancher in Grouse Creek, discovered a dead cow on his property on the morning of Wednesday, Oct. 23. The animal appeared to have been dead for at least two days and there had been significant predator activity on the carcass, but according to Tanner, it was suspicious because the cow had been partially concealed by willow branches and the predation was not at a normal starting point on the carcass.
Tanner posted a photo on his personal Facebook page in the hope of getting the word out to hunters and others to be cautious in the area. The cow was raising a calf, but the calf is now old enough to survive on its own, according to the press release.
“Mr. Tanner was very gracious in giving everyone the benefit of the doubt that this could easily been an accidental shooting, if it was a shooting,” the release stated.
The field in which the dead cow was found was legally posted with “no trespassing” signs. The sheriff’s department said it was trying to “get the message out to be cautious in the rural areas around the livestock.
The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food, in cooperation with the Utah Farm Bureau and Utah Cattlemen’s Association, is offering a $2,000 reward for more information regarding the incident in Grouse Creek, as well as two similar occurrences over the past two weeks in Utah and Iron counties. The Human Society of Utah is also offering a $2,500 reward for information.
“We are deeply saddened and concerned over recent reports of criminal activity leading to the loss of several cattle in Utah,” UDAF Commissioner Kerry Gibson said in a prepared statement. “As such, it’s important that UDAF and our partners at Farm Bureau and Cattlemen’s stand united in condemning these losses, and to incentivize information coming forward that leads to justice.”
UDAF spokesman Doug Perry said there were two head of cattle killed in separate incidents and locations in Utah County, and one killed in Iron County. There was also a report from a rancher in Sanpete County late last week of two more head of cattle that had been shot, but that had not been confirmed as of Friday, Oct. 25.
According to the US Department of Agriculture’s 2017 census, there are approximately 800,000 head of cattle in Utah with an average value of $1270 each.
Anyone with information regarding any of these incidents is encouraged to call the appropriate law enforcement agency:
Utah County Sheriff: (801) 851-4000
Iron County Sheriff: (435) 867-7500
Box Elder County Sheriff: (435) 734-3800
Utah Department of Agriculture and Food, Brand Bureau Chief: (801) 538-7100