'You're Scared To Go Out Without A Gun': Another Mutilated Cow In Central Oregon Rattles Ranchers
By Anna King, Northwest News Network
Feb 5, 2020
NOTE: This story includes images and descriptions of dead cows and their mutilation that readers may find disturbing.
Rancher Stephen Roth is rattled by the recent slaying of one of his cows near Hampton, Oregon.
“You’re scared to go out without a gun,” he says. “You have to weigh the danger of packing a gun versus having it around your young kids.”
Roth has five little children, so he’s reluctant to carry guns in his vehicle or on horseback.
The cow’s killing happened in September 2019, but records have just recently been released on the case from the Lake County Sheriff's office, and it still feels fresh to Roth.
Between private ground and public lands, Roth’s family manages about 87,000 acres of sage, juniper and sand. They run more than 1,000 head of cattle and grow irrigated alfalfa on their land.
Roth’s ranch hand found the slain cow in the late afternoon of Sept. 18. She was missing her udder, genitals, tongue, blood and heart.
“My cowboy was out checking water,” Roth says. “He’d been out the day before. She was within a couple hundred yards of the water trough.”
The cow was mutilated in a remote stretch of U.S. Bureau of Land Management land in northern Lake County.
Roth says it takes about an hour to drive there on a rough road with a high pickup or 4-wheel drive vehicle.
According to Clancy Roth, Stephen’s wife, there are only five ranches for about 60 miles -- between their place and Bend, Oregon.
“There’s nothing out there, but us,” Clancy Roth says. “It’s creepy to think some weirdo is out there.”
Later that day, ranch owner Stephen Roth came out to inspect the animal. He tried to get help. He called the Harney County Sheriff's office because he knew it was handling the recent cases of five bulls that were slain on Silvies Valley Ranch.
As we’ve previously reported, five young bulls were slain last year on the expansive working and guest ranch that’s roughly the size of Chicago. The animals were killed on remote U.S. Forest Service allotments. Their tongues, genitals and blood were removed. Ranchers say scavengers like birds and coyotes didn’t touch the dead animals. The ranch’s owner offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to a conviction, but so far there are no suspects.
Back in Lake County, Roth’s cow was out of the Harney Sheriff’s Office jurisdiction. He called Lake and nearby Deschutes counties. He called the Oregon State Patrol, which also wouldn’t respond.
Roth wanted forensic testing of the animal to see if it had been poisoned or darted. There were no bullet holes in the hide.
“The Harney County people said that I could hire the vet to come out,” Stephen Roth says, “but I really didn’t want to be out there in the dark with the vet and no guns.”
The next day, Lake County deputy Tom Roark came to inspect the animal, but it was too late to take a blood sample.
The deputy’s report says: “ ... I began an investigation involving the mutilation of a cow, Steven Roth being the animal owner. The mutilation included the heart, tongue, udder, vagina and butt being cut from the cow. There is no suspect information.”
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