By Andrea Wagner, Red Bluff Daily News
East county cattle ranchers have been searching for several dogs that murdered or mangled nearly 20 cattle in the area.
Stan Gordon, 40, of Bonanza, Ore., found one heifer, one calf and three other cows dead in his pasture Jan. 18 off Ponderosa Way in Mineral, according to a Tehama County Sheriff's Office press release.
An unidentified neighbor told Gordon that three dogs had been seen in the area where his livestock had been killed, the release said.
About two weeks later, George Hyrcenko, 70, of Los Angeles, reported his cattle were attacked by dogs on his property on Cedar Ridge Road in Manton, the release said.
Hrycenko, who recently retired with his wife Ingrid, has owned the Manton property since 1980, he said. His livestock were attacked Feb. 1, Feb. 4 and Feb. 8.
A ranch employee saw three dogs attacking Hyrcenko's cattle on Feb. 1, the sheriff's release said.
Hyrcenko's employee described the dogs as a light-colored pit bull with several spots, a brown shepherd-type dog and a third dog of unknown breed, the sheriff's release said.
The pit bull had a large amount of blood on his outer coat, which was believed to be from the killed or injured livestock.
The ranch employee shouted at the dogs during the attack and they fled the area.
Having only 42 head of cattle on his small ranch, Hyrcenko lost three bulls and a calf, he said. Three more of his cattle are pretty chewed up and may not survive.
With cattle prices at between $700 and $1,000 a head, Hyrcenko stands to lose as much as $6,000 worth of livestock, he said.
It's not insignificant, Hyrcenko said.
Other ranchers have lost even more cattle than Hyrcenko.
Judy Ramos, a cattle rancher near Battle Creek Canyon where Gordon's livestock were killed, said the majority of the attacks were at her neighbors' property. They've lost nearly 10 cattle and some are still missing.
Ramos could sometimes hear the attacks.
However, since it can be too dark in the canyon, she and her neighbors were unable to catch and stop the attacking dogs.
The dogs ripped off the cows' ears, mangled their genitals and tore at their tails, Ramos said.
The sheriff's department is investigating the deaths, but don't know who owns the attacking dogs, the release said.
The dogs' owners have to know about it when the dogs come back bloody and tired, Ramos said.
It will be a relief to everyone in the area when the responsible dogs are found, she said.
Posters have been put up in the area offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the owners of the dogs that have been killing cattle in Manton.
The notices say to call Mike at 520-5294.
Anyone with information regarding the dogs or the attacks is asked to contact Deputy Edward McCullough of the Tehama County Sheriff's Office at 529-7920.
Update February 23, 2011 - The following article is by Andrea Wagner, Red Bluff Daily News:
Cattle moved after attacks in eastern Tehama County
In response to recent cattle killings by dogs in eastern Tehama County, some ranchers have moved their livestock to keep them safe.
Stan Gordon, 40, of Bonanza, Ore., and his partners Morgan Rourke and Mike Watnur, relocated their remaining cattle to land in Cottonwood when efforts failed to find the dogs responsible for killing more than 15 of their animals.
"It's been kind of a devastating blow," Gordon said.
Domestic breed dogs have been attacking area cattle in Mineral and Manton, where more than 20 head have been killed.
After spending an unsuccessful week in the canyon pastures off Ponderosa Way in Mineral, including two or three days on horseback trying to find missing cattle or any sign of the dogs, Gordon decided he had to pull the livestock out.
"I was up there for a week straight trying to catch them, and I couldn't even put an eyeball on one of them," Gordon said.
Gordon's group has lost at least $15,000 worth of cattle to the attacks, and at least five other cows, worth $7,000 or more, have gone missing. "It's been a severe financial hit," he said.
Most of the dead cattle were found by following circling vultures in the sky, Gordon said.
The group lost five pairs of cows with calves and five bred cows that were pregnant, Gordon said.
One female cow had gotten her head stuck in a downed tree and her face was chewed off, Gordon said. Another was pulled into a watery ditch and drowned. Her face and ears were chewed off.
"When you come upon something like this and see what these dogs did, it turns your stomach," Gordon said.
Meanwhile, ranchers in the area have gotten together to put up a $1,000 reward for information leading to the owners of the dogs.
Watnur, Gordon's partner, put up the reward posters with the support of area ranchers, some of whom have not lost cattle, to try to find someone responsible for the loose dogs.
"If we don't get this under control, it could end up being a person," Watnur said.
If an owner is found, there could be a substantial legal claim, Gordon said.
"We're extremely serious about pursuing this," he said. "This is our livelihood."
Cattle prices are at one of the highest levels in history, and the dogs' owners could be responsible for up to three times the value of the animals, Gordon said.
Gordon, a former Shasta College agriculture instructor, has had to make extra trips to get the situation under control, he said.
After hearing about the cattle killings in the Manton area, a local predation control specialist wants to help the ranchers track the dogs responsible.
Chuck Brewer, of Turkey Creek Custom Calls in Cottonwood, has tracked predatory animals for years and wants to lend a hand, he said.
Brewer called Tehama County Sheriff's Deputy Edward McCullough and one of the ranchers to offer his services.
"I don't like killing domestic dogs, because I am a big dog person myself, but it is a necessary evil," Brewer said.
Since growing up near Sonora and Angel's Camp in Tuolumne County, he has hunted coyotes, mountain lions, bears and dogs, Brewer said. Now, he works with neighbors to keep predators away from livestock.
"Dogs have a different body language," he said.
Brewer can tell by the body posture of the dog whether it is looking to kill or just interested in what's going on, he said.
If the intent is to kill, there is nothing to do but to put it down, Brewer said. Once a dog starts killing, it doesn't stop, and it could get dangerous.
"When they get to the point that they're not afraid of you, that's when humans are in danger," Brewer said.
Breeding season is when the dogs are a bigger threat, Brewer said. The dogs go after calves as they are about to drop or soon after.
Other than Gordon's group, the sheriff's department received reports that George Hyrcenko, 70, of Los Angeles had lost cattle to attacks on three different occasions on his small ranch off Cedar Ridge Road in Manton.
Hyrcenko's employee described the dogs as a light-colored pit bull with several spots, a brown shepherd-type dog and a third dog of unknown breed. The ranch employee shouted at the dogs during one of the attacks and the dogs fled the area, according to a sheriff's press release.
There may be more than the three dogs at large.
In his 25 years of running livestock, Gordon has seen natural losses by an occasional mountain lion or other wild animals, but these attacks are different, he said. The amount of cattle killed and the extent of the damage may indicate that there could be five to seven dogs.
Anyone with information about the dogs or their owners, call Deputy Edward McCullough at 529-7920.