Park County cattle rancher found to be an ‘unfit owner’ |

Park County cattle rancher found to be an ‘unfit owner’

Summit Daily News staff report
Vail, CO Colorado

LAKEWOOD, Colo. – A Park County judge declared Vernon E. Wagner, of Park County, to be unfit to own livestock seized by the Colorado Department of Agriculture.

On May 14, 2010, staff from CDA’s Animal Industry Division, Bureau of Animal Protection, assisted by the Park County Sheriff’s Office, gathered nearly 400 cattle based on the discovery of at least 140 dead cows and many emaciated cattle. Vernon E. Wagner of Park County owns a number of the cattle and is under contract to care for the additional livestock.

The specifics of the recent court decision include:

Wagner was found to be an unfit owner of the seized cattle.

The nearly 400 cattle seized by the Department may be sold. The Department gathered those animals in dire need of care. The cattle and their calves are being held and fed for at the Rocky Mountain Livestock Sale in Salida. Those cattle will be sold on May 28, 2010.

The additional cattle will remain under Wagner’s authority until the trial that will determine if he’s allowed to own livestock. The total number of cattle on the property is unclear but estimates range from 400 to 1,000. CDA will monitor Wagner’s care and management of the cattle.

“The cattle seized by the Department have had weeks to recuperate and are doing much better after suffering from a profound lack of care by Wagner,” said Assistant State Veterinarian, Dr. Nick Striegel. “Ultimately, our goal and responsibility is to protect the welfare of the cattle; the court’s decision will allow us to continue to do that.”

A statement released by the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association and Central Colorado Cattlemen’s Association stated, “Colorado beef producers’ values dictate that it is everyone’s duty to oppose and end inhumane treatment of livestock at any stage of the animal’s life. It is with this same resolve, that these organizations stridently support the actions of the Colorado Department of Agriculture to end the intolerable mistreatment of these animals.”

The criminal investigation by the Park County Sheriff’s Office is continuing and charges could be forthcoming.

“The Department will not tolerate animal abuse; cases such as this do not represent this state’s livestock industry. Our livestock industry is a vital part of Colorado’s culture and our ranchers are dedicated to protecting their livestock,” said Striegel. “The Department will work within the full extent of our power to make sure those responsible for livestock abuse are held accountable.”

For more information on the Bureau or to file a cruelty or neglect complaint, visit and click on “Bureau of Animal Protection.”

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