February 19, 2009

Mercer, Dunn sheriffs seize Voss cattle

Armed with a court order from the Three Affiliated Tribes Tribal Court, Dunn County Sheriff Larry Boepple rounded up 58 neglected cows belonging to John Voss on Thursday, Feb. 12. He left 14 cows behind that had no brands or could not be identified as Voss cows. Voss is last known to have lived at a South Dakota address, but is believed to be in the Halliday area part time.

Voss is believed to have leases allowing him to pasture cattle on land controlled by TAT within the Fort Berthold Reservation. With assistance from the Mercer County Sheriff’s office, Boepple rounded up cattle off of the rugged Porcupine area, within the Hans Creek watershed, west of Twin Buttes. The sheriff seized the cattle due to reports that they didn’t have access to food and water. Local ranchers have been reporting dead and dying cattle in the area for several weeks.

This is the second time the cattle on Porcupine have been rounded up, according to Boepple. On a prior occasion on Feb. 5, Boepple and his deputies rounded up the cattle only to be rebuffed by officers representing the TAT and by Tribal Fish and Game officers. The tribal officers insisted that Boepple couldn’t take any cows from reservation lands that he "couldn’t prove 100 percent" belonged to Voss. Night was falling and the sheriff said he didn’t have sufficient facilities to check each cow for brands.

On Monday, Feb. 9, Boepple and Mercer County Sheriff Dean Danzeisen met with Bureau of Indian Affairs representatives and Tribal representatives to obtain an amended tribal court order that specified what cattle could be removed from tribal land, and which directed the tribal police to "assist in keeping the peace."

Boepple returned Feb. 12 with state brand inspector Cody Cadwell and a squeeze chute, to be able to check each cow for a brand. In addition to Dunn and Mercer counties deputies, also present were Tribal Police and representatives of the BIA range management.

On Monday, Feb. 16 the Mercer County sheriff also seized cattle belonging to Voss. Danzeisen said he and his deputies rounded up and seized 73 cattle from rangeland east of Twin Buttes in Mercer County. Those cattle have also not had access to adequate food and water. Danzeisen seized all cattle branded with two "V"s over another V – the known brand registered to John Voss – and all those without a brand that had an ear tag similar to the tags in Voss’ cows. Danzeisen returned 10 cows that had the brand of a quarter circle above the number 14. Cadwell said that brand was not know to be registered in North Dakota.

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