The investigation continues in three separate cases in which cattle were butchered in Dunn and McKenzie Counties.
The North Dakota Stockmen’s Association (NDSA) has offered a $14,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.
Though details are quiet, here’s what investigators do know.
“Evidence we’ve found in Dunn County is completely different than the evidence we found in McKenzie,” said NDSA Chief Brand Inspector Blaine Northrop.
He believes the cases are not related, but the bigger question is who would indiscriminately shoot and butcher cattle, and why.
Northrop won’t comment on the ongoing investigations other than to say report any suspicious activity through 911.
“Keep in mind these people have the means of putting an animal down — I would not get into a confrontation with them,” Blaine warned.
One cow was shot, almost in plain sight, right off an oil road in McKenzie County.
There was also a report of a cow shot and butchered in Dunn County, and a bull killed about 12 miles away.
All the cases happened within about a week to a week and a half of each other.
And they couldn’t have come at a worse time.
“Livestock producers are experiencing unprecedented times between the impact of the market, coming off the heels of a very difficult 2019 as well,” said NDSA Executive Vice President Julie Ellingson.
She says the last thing families need is to worry about something like this. Northrop adds the financial impacts of the killings are vast.
“You take the cow in Dunn County, she has a calf in her. This cow is worth an estimated $1,700,” he explained. “When they killed the cow, they killed the calf. The calf could have brought another thousand dollars. That’s $2,700.”
The cow was young too, which means she might have calved for years, which not only makes these crimes cruel but expensive, too.
“This is the livelihood of these folks,” said Ellingson.
Meanwhile, Northrop says he and the NDSA are doing everything they can to find the people or party responsible for the deaths.
And Northrop pointedly notes in his 28 years of experience, he doesn’t remember a case that’s gone unsolved.
He’s confident this time, too.
Ellingson and Northrop say until the crime is solved, they won’t know a motive.
But they are keeping an eye out for beef being sold online — there’s some money in stealing beef, processing it independently and selling it online.