Starving, dying cattle reported north of Butler
Butler-area rancher Marvin May, 71, was due in court at 9 a.m. today (Wednesday) on a felony charge of cruelty to animals after Custer County Sheriff Kenneth Tidwell said his deputies took possession of 92 head of May’s cattle, essentially to keep them from starving to death.
“One of my responsibilities by statute,” said Tidwell, “is you wind up having to take care of ’em if the owner won’t. This floor (in the county courthouse) has more grass than that pasture.”
Tidwell said his deputies bought 500 pounds of cottonseed cake Saturday to feed the cattle they had seized. He said he had personally broken ice one day for May’s cattle so they could have access to water.
Besides the 92 head, Tidwell said there are probably another 200 head belonging to the same owner in other pastures that his deputies are keeping eyes on.
“We had received multiple reports last week that Mr. May’s cattle were starving and dying in a pasture northeast of Butler,” said the sheriff. “We took the initial report and then took a veterinarian up to give us his opinion. He just looked at them from the road, but he said they were in poor condition.
“I think there may have been one or two cows dead in the lot at that time. We got a seizure order from the court to seize them. I think they’re still finding cows in different pastures.”
Sometime over the weekend, continued Tidwell, arrangements were made to load up some of the cows and take them to a pasture that had grass in it. He said his people also were going to feed them hay and cakes.
“I was told the first two fell down in a trailer and couldn’t get up, so we were unable to take them out of that pasture,” he added. “We are currently feeding them in place. The Sheriff’s Office is paying for the feed with hopes we can get restitution.”
Asked if he knew how many of May’s cattle have died, Tidwell said, “Just two that I know of, but I haven’t read the report.” Then he added, “This isn’t the first time he’s had dead cattle in his lot.
“The last month there have been numerous cattle die.
“To the best of my recollection he’s been contacted several times. We’ve had reports they were starving. We’ll go by and check, and there’ll be hay in the lot. But it’s gotten to the point they’re just not being taken care of effectively.
“We’ll continue to feed them till the court determines what to do with ’em. Either sell ’em or give ’em back.”
Asked the ages of the cattle, Tidwell said they’re mixed. “Cows, calves and bulls,” he said.
In the past, he said May’s cattle have gotten out and gone onto other people’s property.
“A while back I had to seize some strays and sell them at the sale barn,” said Tidwell. “They went onto a neighbor’s place and caused damage. By law I can hold them till the damages are paid by the owner. If the owner refuses, I can take possession by court order and they’re sold at auction.”
Tidwell said when that happens, if there’s any money left after costs are paid, it goes back to the owner.
The first time he had to sell some of May’s cattle, he said May paid the neighbor himself. “The second time I had to take possession,” he said.
May was released in this case on bond of $5,000 posted Sunday shortly after his arrest.
A copy of an affidavit written by Deputy Walt Schumacher indicates the Sheriff’s Office received a report in mid-February about problems with May’s cattle. In that report he said he received a call on Feb. 16 that there were cows in a pasture with nothing to eat or graze northeast of the intersection of County Roads 2143 and 870.
Schumacher said he went to that location about 4 a.m. on the 17th while on patrol but was unable to see any cattle because it was dark. Later that day he said he contacted Dr. Jason Thome, a veterinarian, who agreed to meet him at 6 a.m. on the 18th.
That day they proceeded to the location indicated by the caller where they found 30 to 40 head of Red Angus cattle. He said they visited with Delano Ramsey who lives just north of where the cattle were and he confirmed they belonged to Marvin May.
Schumacher said he and Dr. Thome went to the back area of the pasture where the cattle had moved by then and were not able to locate any food for them.
“We did locate a well with a pump and a large farm tank with water,” the deputy wrote. “The cattle could get to that water, if they chose.”