May 25, 2010 7:22 PM by Greg Boyce

Cattle owner found to be "unfit"

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

Last week, representatives from the Department of Agriculture, the Bureau of Animal Protection, with help from 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 others.

Some of 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. The Department of Agriculture 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."

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




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