State Watch

Experts baffled by spike in Utah livestock shootings during pandemic

Utah has recorded a spike in livestock shootings during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report by The Salt Lake Tribune

Utah rancher Eric Lyman told the outlet that he lost two cows and three calves to shootings in the summer of 2020. He never learned who was behind the shootings.

“The frustrating part is that somebody would take a gun and shoot something that’s just standing there looking at them,” Lyman told The Salt Lake Tribune. “For no rhyme or reason.”

Leann Hunting, director of animal industry at the Utah Department of Agriculture, told the paper that there were nearly 50 such killings in the state in 2020. In a normal year, she said, Utah would only see one or two.

It’s unclear why the killings are happening, though Hunting wondered that if the pandemic-driven meat shortage could be a cause for some of the shootings. 

“To graph it, it is just an enormous spike,” Hunting said.

Livestock shootings are a big loss financially for ranchers. 

“They act like it’s just one cow, but that one cow has potential of probably raising 15 calves if she was a young cow,” Tracy Hatch, president of the Utah Cattlemen’s Association, told the Tribune. “So you start doing the math on that: $800 a head times 15, you’re looking at $12,000 just because of one animal.”

Tags Cattle Utah

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