Bison slaughter prompts ranch owner to sue neighbor
HARTSEL, Colo. (AP) ” The owner of 32 bison slain near Fairplay, Colo. filed a lawsuit, alleging owners of neighboring property hired 14 hunters to kill the animals.
Longtime Colorado rancher Monte Downare filed the lawsuit in Park County District Court Tuesday against Austin, Texas, businessman Jeff Hawn and his Denver lawyer, Stephen Csajaghy.
Downare claims “outrageous conduct” that has caused them emotional distress. No criminal charges have been filed.
The carcasses of the buffalo were found last month strewn over hundreds of acres.
Hawn, who has identified himself as a major shareholder in Wateredge Properties, had filed a lawsuit days before the bison were slain alleging they had broken through the property’s fences.
Hawn claimed the bison had damaged or destroyed the fences in 50 places.
Five agencies investigated the slayings and investigators seized the weapons from the hunters who told deputies they had permission from a landowner to kill the bison.
“The damage that (the Downares’) buffalo have caused to the property is staggering,” said Hawn’s claim against Downare. Hawn also blamed Downares’ bison for killing hundreds of trees on the property, “including many trees near to the home that Mr. Hawn professionally installed within the past year.”
The Downares denied that their bison caused the damage and said Hawn and Wateredge failed to repair the damage caused to the fences by wildlife and called Hawn’s property damage an “act of god.” South Park has endured a wicked winter, with heavy snow and high winds.
Of the 32 bison killed, only eight were shot on the Hawn property, according to the lawsuit. The rest were killed on property not owned or controlled by Hawn and his Wateredge Properties.
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A report released this month by the Center for Colorado River Studies says that in order to sustainably manage the river in the face of climate change, officials need alternative management paradigms and a different way of thinking compared with the status quo. Estimates about how much water the Upper Colorado River Basin states will use in the future are a problem that needs rethinking, according to the white paper.