Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, farmers near Hugo, Colo., search for cattle shooters
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Contact the Lincoln County Sheriff’s office at (719) 743-2426.
It was Sept. 27, 2014 when Ben Orrell got a call from one of his friends. One of his heifers was dead. Orrell went out to check out what happened, and what he found was a bit puzzling.
“There was no external wound,” Orrell said.
Turns out the heifer was shot, and just a bit further away, Orrell found another one of his heifers shot in the gut. This time there wasn’t a question. She was shot.
Orrell’s two heifers were worth about $1,700 each. That’s a lot of money to lose, and that’s when the cattle market was doing well, Orrell said.
Those losses, along with the continued killing of cattle and antelope since 2013, led community members and livestock owners to band together. They’ve raised money for a $10,000 award, available for anyone with information that leads to an arrest.
The shootings started in 2013, with the latest being a cow July 30. There have been 11 shootings that left seven antelope and five cattle dead. Capt. Michael Yowell with the Lincoln County Sheriff’s office said there were 11 total incidents.
Even though the shootings span three years, Yowell said there is reason to believe the individual or individuals are the same. The shootings have only occurred between the months of May and September, and have all been within the same 10-mile radius, south on U.S. 70, north of Hugo, and Orrell said they’ve all been along Lincoln County Road 33.
Orrell believes the suspect or suspects are from the area, especially since they’re along the same road. It just doesn’t make sense for someone to make a special trip to Hugo just to kill cattle and antelope.
Yowell said there was also consistency in how the animals were shot. He said it appeared the person, or persons, who shot them know how to properly shoot. There were cases where, according to Yowell, it would have been next-to-impossible to miss — especially for an experienced shooter.
The shootings were done intentionally Yowell said, but wasn’t able to give a possible motive.
There was only one cow to survive being shot – a cow about to calve owned by Randall Lewis. But others didn’t have the same luck, including two cows at Withers Ranch and another on a field being leased.
Now neighbors look out for one another’s herds, keeping an eye out daily to make sure there wasn’t another shooting.
“We’re seeing even more of a tight-knit community coming together,” Yowell said. ❖
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