WOODLAND — In mid-November, Bob Smith found one of his cows dead, shot and with its throat cut, on his 50-acre Woodland farm.
Then, on Monday morning, Smith discovered that two of his cattle — a bull and a cow — had each been shot in the hindquarters with hunting arrows. The arrows were removed, he said, and both animals are expected to survive.
Yet, after nearly 50 years of working with cattle, Smith said the shootings have driven him out of the business. He said he’ll soon sell off the 25 remaining members of his herd and quit.
“That’s three head in the last three weeks,” he said of the shootings. “I’m not going to have them suffer down there.”
Smith, 68, said he ran a dairy on Caples Road near the Columbia River for 40 years, then switched less than a decade ago to raising a small beef herd.
He said Monday’s incident marks the fourth time someone had killed or tried to kill his cattle in that time. A cow was shot and hauled away in a pickup a few years ago. Another was shot about six years ago and partially butchered.
This winter’s incidents stand out, he said, because no one stole any beef.
“I don’t understand it,” Smith said. “I don’t know what people are thinking about.”
In the case of last month’s killing of one of Smith’s cows, he said, rustlers tried to drag the carcass up to a road near the dike, but failed. They smashed through Smith’s fence as they escaped in their truck. Smith said the cow’s belly was cut in several places, but no meat was taken.
Mike Nicholson, the Cowlitz County Humane Society’s animal control supervisor, said he believes the recent incidents could be related. He suggested people with no experience slaughtering and butchering beef might be in search of food.
“It’s a gutsy move,” Nicholson said of the shootings. “They were really trying to put some food on the table, it looks like.”
Smith has had other trouble on his farm in the last decade. A worker died on Smith’s property in May 2002 after falling into a hay chopper. A barn fire killed four cows just more than a year later, in June 2003.
Nicholson said no suspects have been identified in the recent shootings, and authorities are asking the public’s help. To provide information about the incidents, call Nicholson at 360-577-0151 or the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office at 360-577-3092.