Colorado producer violates Animal Protection Act

Dec 23, 2011
by WLJ

On Dec. 15, 2011, a Park County judge barred Vernon E. Wagner of Park County from owning, managing, controlling, or otherwise possessing cattle in Park County. The ruling stems from a joint investigation by the Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) and Park County Sheriff’s Office.

Wagner owned a number of cattle and was under contract to care for additional livestock. In May 2010, nearly 400 of those cattle were gathered based on the discovery of at least 140 dead cows and many emaciated cattle. Wagner was then deemed an “unfit owner” of those cattle by the courts. Through a temporary restraining order, the rest of Wagner’s herd was to remain under his care with specific orders pertaining to their proper care as well as a provision that allowed welfare checks by CDA.

The conclusion of the pro cess occurred Dec. 15 when Judge Stephen A. Groome, District Court, Park County, ordered a permanent injunction against Wagner. Groome explained that testimony during the trial “… constitutes very strong and convincing evidence of Wagner’s dismal failure to provide adequate nutrition for the cattle under his control.”

Groome also stated, “the court finds and concludes that, unless Wagner is permanently restrained from cattle ranching in Park County, he will continue to neglect and mistreat the cattle under his control in violation of the Animal Protection Act; and that merely ordering Wagner to comply with the Animal Protection Act’s provisions would prove meaningless and would result in more Wagner cattle being abused, mistreated, and neglected.”

A court appointed receiver has possession of the cattle and will care for them until they are sold.

“The Colorado Livestock Association (CLA) supports the findings, conclusions and orders in this case. Colorado’s livestock industry is dedicated to the care of their animals and we appreciate the effort put forth by both state and local officials who provided the evidence and testimony needed by the court to arrive at their decision,” said Bill Hammerich, CLA CEO.

“Members of the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association hold in high regard proper animal care and husbandry and have no tolerance for animal abuse. The real testament this case serves is to illustrate that Colorado’s systems are fully functional and not in need of remedy,” said Terry Fankhauser, Colorado Cattlemen’s Association executive vice president. — WLJ