James Stafford found one of his calves suffering from bullet wounds on range land near Williams Lake. (Photo submitted)

‘It was not accidental’: Calf dies a week after suffering gun shot wounds near Williams Lake

The animal was on range land near Colpitt Lake Road

A Cariboo rancher is angry and hoping the police can find some answers after one of his calves was shot near Williams Lake and later died in what police are calling a deliberate act.

“I’m pretty mad,” said James Stafford, a third generation rancher who discovered the injured calf Sunday, Sept. 6 just hours before it died on its range land off of Colpitt Lake Road. The calf was believed to have been shot the week before. “More mad that someone just left it injured to wander around.”

Cpl. Cory Lepine of the RCMP Livestock Section is investigating the incident and is appealing for any witnesses to come forward.

“We believe it was a targetted shooting,” said Lepine. “It was not accidental.”

Lepine said a postmortem of the carcass revealed two entry and exit wounds in the hind quarters of the animal from what was suspected to be a .17-calibre rifle commonly used for target shooting.

The range land which the calf was on includes a gravel pit on Colpitt Lake Road, off Dog Creek Road, which is frequently used as a location for target shooters.

“It’s cruelty to animals to do that,” said Lepine of shooting the calf and wounding it. “You’re also taking money out of the pocket of someone who ranches for their livelihood.”

Stafford and his brother run 75 cow calf pairs on the Colpitt range and another 230 cow calf pairs at Esler, which surrounds the westside of the City of Williams Lake.

Dealing with problems arising from nearby city residents recreating within range land, such as gates left open and disturbance from dirt bikers and ATVs, is a challenge the Staffords are learning to live with.

“It’s been happening for many years,” he said, noting education is the key to working with residents within range land.

The case of the calf being shot on the Colpitt range, however, is a different story, he said.

“I think they were driving down the road and just shot it to get it out of the way,” Stafford said, noting he hasn’t lost a calf in that way for 10 years.

Lepine is asking anyone with information regarding the incident to contact him directly at 250-314-1800.

READ MORE: Quesnel RCMP respond to three gun-related calls, including drive-by shooting, in five days


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