Dunster veterinarian unsettled at dead cattle

by Laura Keil


A gruesome scene awaited local veterinarian Tom Vogel when he went to check on his grazing cattle / COURTESY MATT VOGEL

Concerned about wildfires, veterinarian Tom Vogel went to check on his herd in his grazing license near Dunster, and that’s where he made a gruesome discovery: four cows and one bull dead at the 14km and 16km marks of Castle Creek Road.

Vogel says the animals had likely been dead two weeks. Seven cattle are still missing, including two bulls, bringing the tally possibly to 12.

Strangely, most of the dead animals’ calves were unharmed.

“We have all the orphans here at home,” Vogel said.

Calves orphaned after unexplained cattle deaths.

Vogel says in the 34 years he’s used this grazing license he has only lost two full-grown animals while they were out grazing. To find five dead all in the same area is unusual.

“It’s a very strange phenomenon,” he said. “It looks like there must have been some human intervention because of the way they fell and the way they died.”

“It’s not a typical disease scene and it’s not a typical poison scene either,” he said.

BC Cattlemen’s Association wildlife kill verifier Bryan Monroe saw the carcasses and said the cattle were not killed by wild animals.

Monroe has been investigating livestock deaths for more than 30 years, and he said he’s never seen anything like this.

“I don’t have any explanation at all for this,” Monroe said. “I talked to some of my supervisors (at the Cattlemen’s Association) about it and nobody seems to have an explanation for why these cows died.”

Monroe has not seen or confirmed cases similar to this one.

This calf finds a foster mother.

“I feel sorry for the doc, because he’s taking a huge hit there, without any explanation.”

As a veterinarian, Vogel says he is familiar with animal disease and he said the animals died at approximately the same time. The most common cause of cattle death in the valley is called black leg, an infectious bacterial disease, but that wasn’t the cause in this case, said Vogel.

Vogel said the RCMP planned to investigate the scene but poor access and smoky skies delayed them. McBride RCMP were not available to comment by presstime.

Vogel is offering a $6000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction and restitution of his loss.

Vogel said that the cost of buying a new bull is approximately $7000. His beef herd includes roughly 130 female cows plus their offspring and the bulls.

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