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5:55 AM Thu, Jan. 17th

Rancher offers award for leads on catching culprit who shot cow

A Dolan Springs rancher is offering a $1,600 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever shot one of his cows.

Ranchers and homeowners in the area are embroiled in a dispute over the open range law enacted when Arizona became a state in 1912.

Intended to protect ranchers from encroachment, the law allows them to let their livestock roam freely on land they own or lease from other private landowners or the government.

Property owners worried about livestock foraging in their yards or gardens, eating fruit off their trees or causing property damage may erect fences to keep animals off their property.

But the homeowner, not the rancher, is responsible for the cost to erect and maintain fences.

A 4-year-old cow belonging to Dave Knisely was wounded by a shotgun blast while it was on the southwestern part of his 87,000-acre property.

Knisely found the cow Aug.

10 on private property and said he believes the shooting also took place on private land.

The cow was shot in the rump and crippled, he said.

Her 4-month-old calf is missing.

Knisely said he suspects an area homeowner is responsible.

"I've been working for the past three weeks to get my cattle out of the conflict area and she was one of seven or eight still wandering around," he said.

Knisely said he has heard talk of a homeowner who was upset that one of Knisely's cows got into his yard and that the cow was shot soon afterward.

Knisely said he is "99 percent" sure a homeowner shot the cow and not somebody with a gun committing a random act.

Knisely is past president of the Mohave Livestock Association and current vice president of the Mohave County Farm Bureau Federation.

He said both organizations have put up $500 in reward money.

Knisely added $500 and a neighbor put up $100.

Knisely has had problems on the north side of his property.

"I don't use that area much and there's a lot of feed there," he said.

"There's also a pack of about 20 dogs in that area that have torn me up killing cows.

"They chased the cows off water into a subdivision off Pierce Ferry Road.

Between that and the drought the cows wound up eating peaches off trees."

The Mohave County Sheriff's Office is investigating the incident and the Arizona Livestock Association is conducting a separate investigation.

Kurt Pavlat, range conservationist with the Kingman office of the Bureau of Land Management, said his agency would assist the sheriff's office if asked.

"If the shooting happened on public land the BLM has authority to investigate, as livestock out there are licensed (to graze) under a BLM permit," Pavlat said.

"Our regulations are effective on public land and state that livestock shall not be harassed.

Shooting is at the far extreme of harassment."

The BLM can issue only a misdemeanor citation if the offender is identified, Pavlat said.

Anyone with information may call the sheriff's office at 753-0753, spokesman Jarrod Lyman said.

"This is the first time I've had a major conflict," Knisely said.

"But this matter of ranchers and homeowners has been escalating for the past 45 days."