Authorities seek information on illicit butchering

Three head of cattle were killed earlier this month in western North Dakota pastures.

Authorities in western North Dakota are seeking information about cattle killed and butchered on pasture. (Jenny Schlecht / Agweek)

BISMARCK, N.D. — The North Dakota Stockmen’s Association is offering a $14,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whomever has killed and butchered cattle in western North Dakota.

Blaine Northrop, chief brand inspector for the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association, said ranchers in Dunn and McKenzie counties found evidence in their pastures of butchered animals earlier this month. Brand inspectors spent two days in mid-May in the area looking for information.

“We’re still working on it,” Northrop said. “We are getting some tips.”

He said it appears all three animals were shot and then butchered while on pasture. Two cases were in Dunn County, about 15 miles apart. Northrop said the “evidence was similar” at the two Dunn County sites, leading investigators to believe those cases may be connected. One case in northern McKenzie County had a “completely different scene” than the Dunn County cases. One animal in Dunn County was a bull; the other in Dunn County and the one in McKenzie County were cows.

“One cow was right within a herd of 250,” he said.


Northrop suggests producers keep an up-to-date head count, be on the watch for any unusual activity or strange vehicles in the area and notify the NDSA or their local law enforcement agency about anything out of the ordinary.

Northrop said if people see anyone suspicious, they should not approach possible suspects.

“If they’re going to kill cattle, they’re armed,” he said. “Sometimes, the bad guys do win.”

Instead, he asks that descriptions of vehicles and people be passed along to local law enforcement and the Stockmen’s Association as soon as possible.

Tips will be kept confidential, and information can be provided anonymously, Northrop said. He can be reached at 701-223-2522.

Jenny Schlecht is the director of ag content for Agweek and serves as editor of Agweek, Sugarbeet Grower and BeanGrower. She lives on a farm and ranch near Medina, North Dakota, with her husband and two daughters. You can reach her at or 701-595-0425.
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