Nowata County Sheriff Investigating String Of Cattle Killings

Friday, October 18th 2013, 10:55 pm
By: News On 6

The livelihood of some Green Country cattle farmers has come under attack after a recent string of shootings near Delaware.

Sheriff's deputies say, over the last two months, at least six cows and other livestock have been killed.

We've heard of shootings like this in other counties in Oklahoma, but farmers in Nowata County say, in their tight-knit community, an act like this is unheard of.

"I just got in the cow business about five years ago," said Jarad Collins.

He now has 50 head of cattle. Like any farmer, he knows making a living off the land isn't easy, especially in recent years.

"It's been a struggle. To start out, we had the snow, the first year. Now we've had the drought for the last three years. We're coming out of that, and now this."

Collins said, at first, he thought he had miscounted or that one of his cows was still out in the field, about to give birth. But when he went to look, he found his missing $2,000 Black Angus had been shot through the eye.

"That don't sound like a lot, but when feed's $300 a ton, you're depending on that calf drop and that cow to make it another three or four years. It's kind of a big setback," Collins said.

"That's their livelihood in a lot of situations," said Sheriff James Hallet.

Sheriff Hallet said he thinks it's someone in the area, because all the killings have happened within a three-mile radius. It hits especially close to home, because he knows almost all the victims personally.

"And the price that cattle are today, a man loses a cow or a big calf, that costs you your home," Hallet said.

The sheriff said, in one case, a little girl's pet llama was shot.

"It's really tough to explain to a 12-year-old what happened," said Eric Epperson.

His son lost a pet, too.

"It was such a cute calf, to begin with. You know, one of those that you'd take pictures and put it on Facebook," Epperson said.

But the significance of this pet holds a slightly different meaning.

"We try to teach him responsibility, just like it has been all through the generations. Had him go out and borrow his own money, purchase his own cattle and make that payment back," Epperson said.

Epperson said, with the increase in cattle prices, this was a perfect year for farmers to recoup some of their losses from previous years. But for the sixth-generation farmer, the impact of the senseless acts go well beyond his pocket book.

"I would want him to talk to that 12-year-old boy. I want him to look - or her - to look that 12-year-old boy in the eyes and say 'I'm sorry,'" Epperson said.

Whoever is responsible could face felony animal cruelty charges and time behind bars.

If you know who it might be, call the Nowata's County Sheriff's Office at 918-273-2287.