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Emily Welker, Published April 04 2013

McIntosh County man charged with starving 100-some cattle

ASHLEY, N.D. – A rural McIntosh County man has been charged with four counts of animal cruelty after a state veterinarian concluded that an estimated 100 dead cattle on his land died of starvation.

James Schnabel, 44, was charged Monday in McIntosh County District Court with four counts of overworking, mistreating or abandoning animals in connection with the deaths, which included at least eight calves. All four counts are Class A misdemeanors.

Acting McIntosh County State’s Attorney Gerald Kuhn said there isn’t yet a precise count of how many cattle Schnabel is accused of mistreating.

“We did a flyover yesterday” to try to figure out the final count for proceedings in court, Kuhn said Thursday. “He (Schnabel) wants to start burying the cattle.”

Court documents filed in McIntosh County District Court Monday state that McIntosh County Sheriff Laurie Spitzer received a report on March 4 that Schnabel had several dead cattle at his farmstead near Venturia.

When Spitzer contacted Schnabel, he told her stray dogs had chased the cattle into a shed Jan. 30, causing trampling and suffocation. Schnabel told the sheriff his cattle had hay, and he would start feeding them better-quality hay.

The state veterinarian also received a report about Schnabel’s dead cattle, and had contracted with a veterinarian to examine Schnabel’s livestock.

Court documents state that Spitzer and the contracted veterinarian, Dr. Lyle Kenner, visited Schnabel’s farm on March 13. In the veterinarian’s report filed with the charging documents, Kenner wrote that the adult cattle carcasses were too frozen to examine, so he autopsied three calves and concluded that all three died of starvation.

Kenner wrote that almost all of the 100 or so dead cattle died of starvation. Kenner wrote,

The veterinarian said in the report that the poor-quality hay and mixing of species contributed to the deaths. As the dominant animal, horses get the best parts of the hay bales, winning out over the goats and the cattle. But while the goats can survive on different types of forage, the cattle can’t. Kenner said in his report that all of the dead cattle appeared emaciated.

A message left on a phone number listed as Schnabel’s was not returned. His first court appearance is set for April 22.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Emily Welker at (701) 241-5541