The Humboldt County, Calif., sheriff has arrested a 54-year-old rancher after a five-month investigation into what was termed “large-scale animal cruelty.”
Sheriff’s deputies served search warrants last week on four properties in northern Humboldt County owned by Raymond Frank Christie, of Arcata. Authorities said nearly 300 cows were found stacked in 10-foot high piles on the property. Arcata is located near the Pacific Coast, 280 miles north of San Francisco.
Exercising the warrants, deputies found the tall piles of dead cattle near an excavator and other carcasses decomposing near waterways. Many surviving cows were found malnourished in small corrals, authorities said.
Todd Phelps, president of the Humboldt & Del Norte Cattlemen’s Association, said in a statement that Christie is not a member of the organization, and called the scene “horrific and disturbing.”
“While some may try to use this isolated incident to condemn all ranchers I assure you this is not reflective of how myself or hundreds of other ranchers throughout Humboldt County raise and care for our animals,” Phelps said. “We will continue to use our collective voice to condemn all animal cruelty and continue to promote the highest standards of animal care.”
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife documented 45 violations as part of the property search and Humboldt County Animal Control discovered another 22 violations, including dogs kept in unsanitary conditions without water, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Christie was booked into the Humboldt County Jail on charges of animal cruelty, causing an animal to be cruelly killed, failure to provide proper animal care and disposal of a carcass within 150 feet of a waterway. He was released after posting $25,000 bail.