February 5, 2009

Open range: Sheriff investigates starving cattle at Twin Buttes

The Mercer County Sheriff’s Office is investigating allegations of neglect and starvation of cattle. Mercer County Sheriff Dean Danzeisen said he received a call from the Bureau of Indian Affairs asking him to check on reports of cattle starving on tribal lands.

A private landowner within the Twin Buttes Segment of Fort Berthold Reservation reported that cattle had been on their property all winter with no feed or water. The cattle reportedly belong to John Voss, who the Sheriff’s Department believes lives at a South Dakota address and stays in the Halliday area at different times. The reporting resident said they attempted to call Voss at least 100 times at a South Dakota telephone number and only received one return call.

Upon investigation the sheriff said he found nearly 40 cows in the barn and farmyard of the reporting resident.

"We determined right away that these cattle were starving," Danzeisen said. "There was one dead in the barn that had recently died, and two skeletons (of cattle) that had died last year."

The investigators took pictures and tried to track down the owner. The department went out on four-wheelers to get close enough to the cattle to verify the brand and confirm that they belonged to Voss.

According to the sheriff this is not the first time cattle owned by Voss has been out. The resident reported having trouble with free ranging cattle for the last three years.

"We’ll continue to work with (the party) to get some of these issues cleared up," he said.


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