Cattle owners no longer seeking return of animals
MOUNT VERNON — Roger and Marsha Pederson of Bay View are no longer seeking to get back cattle seized from their property in January and face a $259,200 fine for failing to bury dead cattle, according to documents filed this week.
Roger Pederson withdrew petitions he filed for the return of the cattle, closing those cases in Skagit County District Court that were slated for witness testimony March 21.
An order filed Wednesday to dismiss the cases states that Roger Pederson signed an agreement allowing the cattle to be sold in order to make payments toward liens.
“Pederson no longer seeks the return of the seized cattle to his possession or property, he is withdrawing the petitions filed,” states the document filed by his lawyer, Emily Beschen.
Skagit County Deputy Prosecutor Arne Denny said the cattle will be sold or auctioned starting Saturday.
Proceeds will first go toward the costs of the facilities that have been caring for the cattle, then toward veterinary and other costs the county has paid, and lastly toward a lien held by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Field Support Agency, he said.
Skagit County Health Officer Howard Liebrand, meanwhile, upheld a health violation and related fine for the Pedersons’ failure to bury 54 dead cattle found on their property when about 140 living cattle — many of which were described as being neglected — were seized.
The Pedersons were fined $400 per day for each of those 54 cattle — a total of $21,600 per day — for the 12 days between the time the animals were documented Jan. 23 and when Roger Pederson filed Feb. 5 for a hearing to reconsider the violation, according to the decision Liebrand signed Wednesday.
A criminal investigation of the Pedersons’ treatment of their cattle is still underway.
This is the second time the Pedersons have faced legal ramifications for failing to bury dead cattle.
In 2005, Skagit County found 172 dead cattle on the couple’s property. At that time, Skagit County Public Health fined them about $2,000 for two of those animals, which were found submerged in water.
Denny wrote in a briefing about the recent violation that the Pedersons’ continued failure to bury cattle more than a decade later shows that their “disregard for the requirement to promptly and properly dispose of the carcasses is painfully obvious.”