A Colorado rancher is charged with stealing cattle from five cattlemen, wrongfully branding animals and concealing stray livestock.
According to an arrest affidavit Monty Luke Pilgrim, 52, had 36 cows and 31 calves belonging to nine area cattle ranchers. The Denver Post reports a rancher hunting prairie dogs found a calf with his brand on Pilgrim’s pastures. Upon further investigation he found cattle belonging to eight other cattlemen.
A jury determined Pilgrim was guilty of five counts of stealing cattle, a Class 4 felony and five counts each of hiding stray cattle and wrongful branding, both Class 6 felonies. The Craig Daily Press reports Pilgrim was not guilty on charges of stealing cattle from four others.
Han Ng, Moffat County deputy district attorney for the 14th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, hopes the ruling sends the message the county takes ranching crimes seriously in the county. Drought conditions in Colorado and across the country have sent a wave of cattle to market early and high prices make cattle more valuable.
Pilgrim is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 20.