for the Mail Tribune

for the Mail Tribune

TRAIL — The Oregon State Police is asking for help from the public as it investigates the recent shooting of a cow and three calves in the Elk Creek drainage.

Three calves were shot sometime around July 11 and 12, and a pregnant cow was shot June 20.

State police said all the animals were found in the area drained by Elk Creek, roughly north and east of Shady Cove.

Phyllis Nelson, who owned the three calves with her husband, Don, said she didn't know whether the shootings were the work of "kids getting in trouble," opponents of open-range grazing, or whether they might somehow be connected with large groups of young people who have been congregating in the area for parties.

Oregon State Police Trooper Jim Collom said livestock shootings in rural areas are uncommon, but not unheard of.

"Somebody might accept somebody that shoots a deer out of season and feeds it to their family a little more than something like this," Collom said.

"It's still illegal (to poach), but something like this, to shoot somebody's cows and leave them to die, that's pretty egregious. It's someone's livelihood," he said.

Nelson said the area where her animals were found was inaccessible to most passing motorists.

"You wouldn't want to go much farther," up the road that led to where the animals were found, she said, "or you'd scratch up your pickup. You could probably go on horseback, but it's back a ways."

Nelson and her husband noted a powerful weapon had been used to shoot the animals.

"We're hunters," she said, "so we know what it looks like when you shoot something. They were shot more than once, and it went right through them. They must have had a high-powered gun."

Elk Creek resident Cheryl Adams said she and other neighbors are concerned about the growing number of large parties happening in the relatively secluded rural area.

"There's a lot going on up here," Adams said. "Teenagers having alcohol parties way out in the woods, some big groups"¦ it could be anybody trying to cause trouble up here."

"Thank god I don't run cattle up there," she said, "but I know people who do, and (losing animals to shooters) gets pretty spendy."

Nelson said killing the animals for no other purpose "than to just kill something" left her angry.

"If they were really hungry and they did something to be able to eat, I could understand that part," she said.

"But just shooting them and letting them lay"¦ it just isn't right."

Anyone with information about the shootings should call Oregon State Police at 776-6236. Dial extension 292 for Mike Cushman or extension 392 for Jim Collom.

Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. E-mail her at buffypollock@juno.com.