ROYAL CENTER — A cow carcass was discovered in a ditch not far from the residence of a Royal Center man who said he properly buried a cow he owned that died in October.
On Oct. 13, the Pharos-Tribune reported a dead cow could be seen on a property off West Ind. 16 near Royal Center owned by Michael Scott Hunter.
Hunter said the cow died Oct. 4 and that he buried it Oct. 7, adding that he did not know how it died. While state law says dead livestock has to be buried within 24 hours, Hunter said it took him a few days to acquire the equipment to bury the animal.
Bob Vernon, office administrator of the Cass County Health Department, said after looking into the matter that Hunter told him he buried the animal, requiring no further need for the health department.
The animal had rope binding its front legs, which Hunter explained was used to drag the animal out of the barn after he discovered it had died.
Rope was also found strewn about the skeletal remains of an animal in a ditch off of 500 N. in Cass County, about three miles from Hunter’s home.
Brian Swartzell, a Cass County Sheriff’s deputy who works part time as the town marshal for Royal Center, said he received a tip informing him of a cow carcass in a ditch similar to the one described in the Oct. 13 news report.
Swartzell said he found the carcass in the ditch off of 500 North with rope around it and carpet padding beneath it. Upon arriving at Hunter’s residence to approach him about the matter, Swartzell said he noticed carpet padding in the front yard matching the kind under the cow carcass in the ditch.
When the remains were photographed, only bones and rope remained.
Hunter maintained he had buried the cow, Swartzell said, despite Swartzell telling him he found the same carpet padding beneath the carcass as was in his front yard.
“I told him he needed to go take care of it,” Swartzell said.
Swartzell said he checked the ditch two days later to find that the carcass remained and wrote Hunter a ticket for littering.
However, the ticket ended up going to a Cass County resident named Scott Hunter and not Michael Scott Hunter, whom it was intended for. Cass County Superior Court II Judge Rick Maughmer said he dismissed the charge in light of the error.
Swartzell said Friday he plans to contact the Cass County Prosecutor’s Office to see how to go about correcting the error.
Hunter did not return calls requesting comment for this story.
Dr. Chris Ciotta, a veterinarian in charge of the Cass County Animal Hospital, visited Hunter’s property this summer and advised him to provide his horses with better feed and to let the cows out of the barn to graze.
In the story that ran in the Oct. 13 edition of the Pharos-Tribune, Ciotta said he observed three cows on Hunter’s property, while Hunter maintained he had only owned one cow at a time for the past several years.
Shortly after that story ran, one of Hunter’s horses had gotten out of the fence on the property and was killed by a vehicle on West Ind. 16.
Mitchell Kirk is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5130 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him: @PharosMAK