Back in March 2008, thirty-two bison were found slain on a private ranch in Park County, Colorado. What makes this crime so horrific is that these innocent bison were killed by so-called â€œhuntersâ€ gangland style.
Buffalo from Monte Downare’s ranch ran through the thin fence put up by Jeff Hawn, a newcomer from Texas. Hawn then called in 14 hunters to kill the bison. They left the dead buffalo where they were shot or where they eventually fell.
Rumor has it that the shooters dropped piles of corn or other foodstuffs to lure the bison off the Donware Ranch and into the killing zone. One of the shooters raced into the herd on a snowmobile to run the animals and make the kill at least a bit more sporting. Almost every one of the cows they killed, about twenty-nine of them were about to calve. Other rumors say that some of the hunters were Native American men and that they have a constitutional right to kill bison at any time of the year. However, the Native Americans living in the area say that this is not true. The law isnâ€™t like that and they revere the bison and would never do anything like this.
The State of Colorado is an open range state and so the ethic and the law is that property owners are responsible for keeping animals on their property â€” and that you never kill a neighbor’s stock. The buffalo would cross from the Downareâ€™s ranch next to Jeff Hawnâ€™s 365 acres ranchette. Downare would bring them back but Hawn claimed they did damage to his property, including destroying a satellite dish. Then the bison crossed one more time and thatâ€™s when Hawn called in his gang of hunters to shoot the animals.
Local park County Sheriff and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation were called in. According to the Rocky Mountain News in May 2008, Jeff Hawn was charged with theft, criminal mischief and thirty-two counts of aggravated cruelty to animals. The loss to Downareâ€™s herd was estimated at $77,000.