It is common practice for many B.C. ranchers to graze their cattle on range land during the summer months in both open pastures as well as range consisting of thick forests accessed by logging roads, like that of Big Lake area rancher Daniel Hamblin. Two of Hamblin’s cows were shot and killed last month. Police are investigating. Angie Mindus/Tribune file photo

Cariboo rancher disturbed after cows shot and killed, RCMP investigating

Warning: story contains disturbing content

A Big Lake area rancher has been left feeling disturbed and fearing he could suffer more loss after two of his cows were shot and left for dead on a logging road recently.

“It’s hard to believe,” said rancher Daniel Hamblin.

Hamblin said the first cow, a red Angus cross born on his ranch four years ago, was found by a forestry worker June 5. The cow was 100 metres off the Likely Road on the 35 Mile logging road, laying in the middle of the road with a gunshot wound to her head.

Hamblin received the call about the second cow, a seven-year-old Angus cross also born on the ranch, through a bear hunter who discovered her along the same 35 Mile Road about three kilometres from the other cow with a gunshot wound to the head.

Both cows had calves when they were let out on their range lands, Hamblin said, and valued at approximately $2,700 each. Due to the thick forest within the range, Hamblin said he won’t know if the calves survived without their mothers to protect them in the area populated by wolves, and whether there will be more loss, until the fall.

“You just have to hope the calves make it.”

These latest losses have Hamblin very concerned, considering what happened last year.

“There have been some strange things happening.”

Last fall when his herd came home, Hamblin was missing 13 cow/calf pairs — an astonishing loss even for Hamblin, who has seen his share of predation since 2011 — a total of 96 animals lost in eight years due to wolves.

“I’ve never lost pairs to wolves before. They were just gone and no one knows why.”

Prior to that Hamblin lost three young bulls who just “didn’t come home” in the fall of 2016. They were valued at $8,500 each.

Hamblin received half of the cow/calf pair’s value from Red Cross due to the 2017 wildfires.

Read more: Ranchers work together to save cattle in fire zones

Read more: Ranchers’ plight not lost on BC Cattlemen’s Association

He won’t be compensated by anyone for the cows shot last month, and is left to wonder what happened.

“I can’t fathom why anyone would do that. Who in their right mind shoots a cow and leaves it?”

Cpl. Cory Lepine, the province’s only RCMP livestock investigator, said crimes against livestock are much more common than people think.

“We see it a lot,” said Lepine, who visited Hamblin’s ranch in June to investigate the shooting.

Just last year alone a cow/calf pair was shot and left for dead near Kelowna, Lepine said, while outside of Kamloops three cows were poached in October.

“Cattle are a commodity just like anything else.”

Lepine said just last week the BC Cattlemen’s Association and Ownership Identification Inc. (OII) resurrected the Vandalert program, in which ranchers are given ticket-like booklets where they can record the information of vehicles found in remote areas and leave a copy for the vehicle owner so they also know they have been noted.

“That way if there is a problem it at least gives us a lead.”

Livestock crimes are challenging to investigate Lepine said because sometimes the evidence is found days, weeks or even months after the crime.

Lepine works out of an office in Kamloops and supports the ongoing investigations within RCMP detachments.

If anyone has information regarding the cattle shot on the 35 Mile Road, they are asked to contact the Williams Lake detachment at 250-392-6211 or Crimestoppers.


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Warning: The image below contains disturbing content

 

This cow was one of two shot and killed on range land east of Williams Lake in June. Police are investigating the crime and the public is asked to contact the Williams Lake RCMP detachment if they have any information. Photo submitted

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