From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 6, Number 11 - June 8, 2006
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Cattle illegally imported to Sublette County

by Cat Urbigkit

The illegal importation of about 920 head of cattle from central Utah into Sublette County last week has put local cattle producers on edge with demands that the action have severe repercussions.

Acting on a tip to authorities, Wyoming Livestock Board Law Enforcement Investigator Kim Clark said in an interview that Daniel brand inspector Bob Beard was able to confirm that 16 loads of central Utah cattle with paperwork calling for a Woodruff, Utah, destination had actually been delivered to two Sublette County ranches instead. Having the Woodruff destination on the Utah brand inspection allowed the animals to get through the Evanston port of entry without health inspections required for delivery into Wyoming. When a Utah brand inspector asked why the animals were going to Woodruff, Clark said, the inspector was told it was none of his business.

Since the 15-month-old cattle were not official calf-hood vaccinates for brucellosis and had not been spayed, Wyoming animal health officials would not have allowed the animals to be imported under state rules. Brucellosis is an infectious bacterial-based disease that can cause abortion outbreaks in cattle. It affects the reproductive tract, so there are tight animal health requirements on sexually mature bovine in the state as Wyoming attempts to have its market status restored by federal animal health officials.

Clark said his investigation revealed that two Sublette County ranches had been leased by parties and are not implicated in the case. These parties had contacted cattle broker Maitland Webb of Woodruff, who arranged to have cattle delivered for summer grazing. The cattle are actually owned by two individuals in Utah, Clark said, who are also not implicated in the case.

Sublette County Attorney Ralph Boynton identified the owners as Chris Dinsdale and Rick Monterra. Dinsdale Brothers is a familiar name to some in the livestock industry, with its livestock facilities in Nebraska and Colorado.

Clark said to comply with Wyoming’s animal health rules, cattle broker Webb would have had to either work with the Wyoming State Veterinarian’s office in testing and adult-vaccinating the cattle or have the animals spayed before shipping into Wyoming.

“It would be a nuisance,” Clark said, to spay, since it would take time and money to do, and then the animals would need to recover from the procedure before shipping.

Once Clark got all the information together, he slapped aquarantine on all the animals on Wednesday, May 31. Clark said while the quarantine will be lifted if the cattle are either calfhood vaccinates or spayed, the parties leasing the ranches hired a licensed veterinarian to spay the animals, which began last Friday and would continue for several more days. The investigation revealed that about one-quarter of the heifers were calf-hood vaccinates, but the majority of the animals were not, Clark said.

Clark said local ranchers’ concerns led state officials to demand the cattle be bled for brucellosis testing, as well as the spaying. Once the spaying is complete and if the blood tests come back disease-free, the quarantine will be lifted, Clark said.

But the legal ramifications are just beginning. Clark was hesitant to release Webb’s name or the name of the trucking company that hauled the animals to Wyoming, but under threat of newspaper action, did finally release that information. Webb is a licensed Utah livestock dealer. The trucking company involved in the matter was L.W. Miller Trucking of Logan, Utah. Clark emphasized that the trucking company was very cooperative in the investigation, but he anticipates that two citations will be issued to each of the drivers of the 16 loads of cattle for not having health inspections and permits. Each citation carries a $210 fine.

Clark said Webb will receive a summons to appear in court in Sublette County, where charges will eventually be filed. Clark said his recommendation to the Sublette County Attorney will be for a “severe” penalty, with fines in the “thousands of dollars” and with jail time. He noted that under Wyoming Livestock Board rules, each animal illegally imported is a violation. That’s at least 920 violations in this case.

“He hasn’t been charged yet,” Clark said. “This case is under control and I think the situation is under control. There is nothing else I know of we can do.”

Interviewed as he was completing his investigative report last Friday, Clark said his report would be used by the Sublette County Attorney’s office in preparing information for the court summons for the criminal counts.

The executive committee of the Green River Valley Cattlemen’s Association met last week to discuss the matter and passed a resolution noting, “These cattle were imported illegally, intentionally, without knowledge or clearance of the state, and; this situation, if not dealt with in an expeditious and very firm manner, will compromise this state’s battle to reclaim marketability and reputation of Wyoming cattle.”

The cattlemen’s association requested state officials “aggressively pursue maximum penalty for this intentional violation of Wyoming’s import regulation.”

Webb was contacted for this article, but declined to comment.

Marty Griffith and Jim Cagney, range officials with the Wyoming State Bureau of Land Management office in Cheyenne, confirmed late last Friday afternoon that some of the imported cattle had been placed on a BLM grazing allotment. When the BLM was notified that state animal health regulations were not complied with, they contacted the local permittees and said, “get them off.” Griffith reported the rancher said, “Consider it done.” The cattle were removed Friday afternoon.

Cagney noted that the cattle wouldn’t be allowed back onto the allotment until the situation is remedied.

County Attorney Boynton said he met with Clark on Tuesday morning to review the case.

“This is a serious matter and we will prosecute it as such, ”Boynton said, but noted it will be the judge’s decision whether to treat each count as concurrent or consecutive. Boynton said further investigative work is currently being done in the case, but anticipates charges will be filed in the next week or two.

It appears that the case is now being investigated by Utah authorities, as well as federal transportation officials.

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