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ST. GEORGE — The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food recently discovered two more cows shot and butchered in Kane County near the town of Cannonville, adding to a growing number of animals that have been slaughtered this year that are being investigated by the department, as well as the Kane County Sheriff’s Office.
Caroline Hargraves, UDAF public information specialist, told St. George News that the cows, a red cow and a black cow, were discovered Oct. 23 in the Four Mile Canyon area. The red cow was killed in mid-October, Hargraves said, and the black cow was likely killed in late September. Both were found in a remote area 150 yards from the nearest four-wheeler access road.
Hargraves said the red cow was shot twice in the neck and twice in the head. Its backstrap was butchered and removed from the body. The animal represents the most recent of more than 25 cows and horses that have been slaughtered this year. Most of the animals were shot, and most of the killings occurred in central Utah.
The two recent killings stand out from the rest because of where they were found, UDAF Director of Animal Industry Leann Hunting said. Most of the killings happened in high profile areas such as a pasture near a road, but these cows were in a remote area where no one was likely to see them.
“Whoever shot them knew what they were doing and knew how to find them,” Hunting said.
Multiple cows have also gone missing this year, Hargraves said, presumably due to cattle theft. Kane County Sheriff’s Lt. Rob Johnson said the missing cows are related to a string of cases that dates back a year and a half. In some of those cases, it is unclear whether the cattle were killed by people or got lost and died, he said.
Will Barnson keeps cattle on the same allotment of land where the two cows were found and said that over the past three years, more than 40 of his cows have disappeared. He’s not sure whether they were stolen, killed or just got lost, but after thoroughly searching, he hasn’t been able to find them.
“A few every year (go missing),” Barnson said. “You usually find them dead or they show up but it’s not normal for that many cows in that short amount of time.”
The fact that two cows have been found killed in the area so far leads him to believe that some of his cows may have been killed.
The Kane County Sheriff’s Office is investigating several potential leads, Johnson said, including hundreds of images and videos from hunters’ cameras. The investigation has included several interviews and polygraph tests, he said, but so far no concrete leads have presented themselves.
Anyone who has been hunting in the area should be on the lookout, Hunting said, further adding that anyone who sees suspicious vehicles or activity, such as an individual with several cattle backstraps, should report it to their local sheriff’s department. UDAF is also offering a $10,000 reward for any information that leads to a conviction.
Update 2:40 p.m. The location of the two most recent carcasses has been clarified, and additional quotes from a local rancher were added.
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