Herald JournalHerald Journal, Aug. 29, 2005

Waverly farmer reports suspicious disappearance of his cattle

By Ryan Gueningsman
Staff Writer

A Waverly farmer is unhappy with the mysterious disappearance of several of his calves – on more than one occasion.

Harlan Poppler, who has farmed between Waverly and Howard Lake for just about two years, had four heifer calves and two bull calves stolen sometime between the night of Aug. 19 and the morning of Aug. 20.

It appears as if someone pulled a trailer up to the north part of his calf barn, loaded up the calves, and took off.

“Friday night they were there, and Saturday they were gone,” Poppler said.

This isn’t the first time the Popplers have had cattle stolen from their farm. Three heifer calves disappeared without a trace in mid-July as well.

While this is a problem for Poppler, it doesn’t seem to be a wide-spread issue. Lt. Dan Anselment of the Wright County Sheriff’s Department said, aside from the two instances at Poppler’s farm, there was one other case of someone stealing cattle in Franklin Township in 2003.

The same night Poppler’s calves disappeared in July, Carver County authorities received a report of the theft of two calves about two weeks old.

“The animals were removed from a barn about 30 feet from the road and were separated from any other animals at the time pending a sale to someone within the week,” said Carver County Chief Deputy Bob VanDenBroeke. “There are currently no leads in the case.”

Carver County authorities also had a report of 10 milk cows missing from south of Cologne March 9. These were full-size milk cows that were removed from a barn close to the road.

VanDenBroeke said there are no suspects or leads currently being worked on this case, either.

McLeod County Communications Sergeant Jennifer Otto said she was not aware of any such thefts being reported to the sheriff’s department.

As for Poppler, he’s not sure if the two thefts that happened the same night are related – but he is sure of one thing – that he wants his cattle back.

“They’re your livelihood,” Poppler said about the cattle. He is offering a $1,000 reward for information that will lead to finding and recovering the calves.

“It might be a veterinarian or someone who sees something that doesn’t seem quite right,” Poppler said. “Or something will look out of place for the type of operation it is.”

Poppler said the calves taken from his farm had plastic tags on them bearing the numbers 889, 890, 891, 894, 895, and 896.

Anselment said authorities are processing some physical evidence that was obtained at Poppler’s farm following the second theft.

“If you see suspicious activity, even in a rural area, call it in and have a deputy check on it,” Anselment said.

Anyone with information about the cattle thefts can contact the Wright County Sheriff’s Department at (763) 682-1162.

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