WELD COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) — The remains of nine dead animals were collected Saturday morning from a small farm property northeast of Greeley. The animals had been dead for several weeks and were removed following an order from the Colorado Department of Agriculture.
The bodies of the dead animals had been left by the owner where they died – inside the pens with other animals whose welfare continues to be monitored. Multiple excrement samples were obtained from the live animals.READ MORE: Stimulus Check Update: Will You Get A Fourth Relief Payment?
Per an Order by the Commissioner of the Colorado Department of Agriculture, livestock and carcasses were assembled at a location in Weld County on February 20. Carcasses were removed for the purposes of conducting diagnostic testing. pic.twitter.com/cLavf3lsQI
— Colorado Department of Agriculture (@coagriculture1) February 20, 2021
All samples were sent to Colorado State University where they will be tested for the presence of infectious disease.
The owner of the animals, Halina Morley, consented to the release of the dead animals and the testing of the live ones.
Morley’s operation came under scrutiny at the end of January following citizens’ calls into Weld County dispatch about the dead animals. A spokesman for the Weld County Sheriff’s Office said deputies and animal control officers responded and determined the living animals were in sufficient health. No evidence of neglect was found.
But, despite the photos circulating on social media that showed sheep, goats, pot-bellied pigs, chickens, ducks and a dog mingling among decomposing remains, county officials were in no position to step in.READ MORE: Gov. Jared Polis Signs 2 Gun Safey Bills Into Law, Including 'Isabella Joy Thallas Act'
WCSO’s Joseph Moylan told CBS4 that no regulations exist that mandate the removal of dead animals from the presence of live ones.
“We are getting called there almost every day, sometimes multiple times a day,” Moylan said. “Right now, we just haven’t found a criminal charge that we think can stick.”
Moylan told CBS4 during the first week of the investigation that a state veterinarian who examined the remains of the dead animals did not believe sufficient results could be obtained by testing at that time. It is not known what factors, if any, changed that determination and prompted Saturday’s action.
Public concern grew to the point that deputies had to warn citizens not to take matters into their own hands. One person was investigated for criminal trespassing on the property.
The property at 5406 F Street is owned by Mary C. Stevens, according to public assessor’s records.
A search of online court cases indicates Stevens and Morley, the owner of the animals who is renting the property, have filed several civil actions against one another, including restraining orders.
Public records also show that two wild horses Morley purchased in 2011 were repossessed by the Bureau of Land Management due to her refusal to pay for their care. Morley’s appeal in the case was denied.
Weld County stated the results of CSU’s testing would be announced publicly and the investigation into Morley’s care of her herd are ongoing.MORE NEWS: All Clear: Officers Check Ralston High School After Receiving Safe2Tell Reports