PETALUMA, CALIF. -- The buzzards led Nick Bursio to his prized calf. He found the body just over a rise in the field, with a bullet hole in its left shoulder, near the heart.While many people will read this and rant about "guns don't kill, people kill", without the gun, this would not have happened.
Bursio had heard of animals killed by rustlers for their meat. But not until that May morning had he ever imagined anything so senseless as shooting cattle presumably just to watch them die.
"I had a hollow feeling in my gut, to see that dead calf laying there, with the mother cow bellowing nearby," said the Sonoma County rancher. "I thought, what the hell's going on in this place?"
Authorities are searching for a drive-by shooter who guns down cows as they calmly munch grass in the rolling pastureland 50 miles north of San Francisco. Since February, five cows have been found dead in two counties, shot with small-caliber bullets designed to inflict prolonged pain and suffering.
Nationwide, an increasing number of animal cruelty cases are being reported outside city limits: Horses, cows, goats and other farm animals are being killed, authorities say, often by angry, reckless youths, perhaps acting on dares.
Although there are no statistics on such crimes, newspapers detail scores of cases. Two Texas college students were indicted last fall for slashing a horse's neck before stabbing it in the heart with a broken golf club handle. In Pennsylvania in 2005, three joy-riding men killed a pony named Ted E. Bear that belonged to a 4-year-old boy.
Last year, two Tennessee teens shot and killed 24 cows, many of them pregnant. "They just wanted to see what shooting cattle was like," said Hickman County Sheriff Randal Ward.
I wonder what the parents of those teens in Tennessee think. Do they find what their kids did as amusing? Or are they outraged at their children? Odds are, as gun owners themselves, deep down inside they are feeling might proud of their kids for being such ace shots. Probaly not at all disgusted at their behavior. But will have to put on a face of outrage for the public to view.