Thursday, September 02, 2010

Judge says seizure of ND rancher's cattle improper

A judge has ruled that law officers improperly seized the cattle of a McLean County rancher, saying the officers failed to prove their allegations that the livestock hadn't been properly fed or watered. The sheriff's department seized 258 cows, calves and bulls from Layton Reynolds of Douglas on Friday. State's Attorney Ladd Erickson said in an affidavit that the cattle kept getting into neighbors' fields because there wasn't enough feed in the pasture where they were held. Authorities testified during a hearing Monday that the pasture was overloaded with cattle, there was no grass for the animals to eat and the cattle had been jumping or squeezing out of the pasture all summer to feed on neighbors' fields and yards. Reynolds testified that the pasture from which the cattle were seized was a holding pasture, and he intended to move the animals to another grassy pasture after he completed fence repairs. His attorney, Jason Vendsel, argued that the state had failed to show the animals had not been properly fed or watered. Judge David Reich agreed with Vendsel in a ruling late Tuesday, according to the Bismarck Tribune. "Based upon testimony and evidence ... the state failed to prove that the cattle seized were not properly fed," Reich wrote. The cattle were removed from the auction block at a Mandan sales barn Wednesday. Erickson said their future was unclear because a bank has a lien on them. Reynolds still faces eight misdemeanor charges in three cases filed last year related to allegations that he allowed cattle to run loose and that he neglected animals. The first two cases are slated for trial in November. AP

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