STAFF WRITER CONNIE SWINNEY
LLANO COUNTY — The shooting death of a longhorn steer on a remote county road has resulted in a criminal investigation and a $5,000 reward offered by a Llano County rancher.
The incident is believed to have happened sometime over the St. Patrick’s Day weekend, March 17-18, on a ranch just off CR 308 (also known as Cedar Mountain Road), according to a Llano County Sheriff’s report.
“It was determined by a foreman on that ranch that this particular animal had been shot and resulted in the death of that animal,” Chief Deputy John Neff said. “The proximity of where this longhorn was shot and killed, it was close to the roadway.”
Investigators say they also received reports within the last several months of a number of other longhorns “suspiciously” dying on the same property.
Longhorn cattle are described as a drought-stress resistant, intelligent animal with an innate gentle disposition.
Feral longhorns roamed Texas during the days of pioneer settlements and have evolved into mascots, pets, symbols of wealth and been dubbed “yard art” because owners do not typically use them as a food source. It is also the large state mammal of Texas.
“Longhorns are a Texas tradition,” Llano County Sheriff Bill Blackburn said. “I don’t know what their (the suspect) motivation was but just shooting at something.”
No matter the motivation, intentionally killing someone’s longhorn comes with a hefty penalty.
“Shooting livestock is a felony,” Blackburn said.
If caught, a suspect could face a string of charges.
“For one thing you’re not supposed to be ‘road hunting.’ You can’t discharge a firearm from a public roadway,” the sheriff said. “If a bullet travels into another person’s property, it’s also trespassing.”
The livestock owner has offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of a suspect.
LCSO officials have also enlisted the assistance of an investigator with the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association.
“Killing somebody’s livestock is a serious offense,” Neff said. “Anybody with information, we need them to come forward to help us solve this case.”
Contact LCSO 325-247-5767 with information.