Man forced to destroy wandering cattle

MAHOMET – A Mahomet man said he decided to have his beef cattle killed rather than take the risk that they might cause an accident that could hurt humans.

Robert Furtney, who lives on County Road 900 E about 3 miles east of Mahomet, said he discovered about 7 p.m. Wednesday that 10 of his beef cattle had gotten out of a 3- to 4-acre pasture at his farm.

Furtney said the cattle leaned against a board around the pasture until it broke and were able to get out.

"They were tame to begin with. When they get out of their environment, they get a change of attitude. They revert back to a wild stage," he said.

Furtney said he learned that the wandering cattle were the cause of an accident Wednesday night on the Dewey-Fisher Road that didn't hurt anyone but damaged a car.

He said by Saturday, the cattle had traveled about 5 to 6 miles, moving to the west-southwest.

"Most of the time, we were tracking them. I had three horse people help me. With the field conditions so muddy, it was an impossible job to do," Furtney said.

On Saturday, at the suggestion of the Champaign County sheriff's office, Furtney agreed to have the animals killed before they could make their way to the Trailside subdivision in Mahomet.

"They were coming into town. It was terrible, the worst thing I've ever had to do in my life," he said of his decision.

"In that subdivision they were coming into there are swimming pools with covers. It could have been a tragedy. If they had gotten into an accident with another vehicle ... It's bad enough losing the cattle. I would have felt terrible if they hurt a family," he said.

Furtney, who raises hogs on a large scale, said he has had cattle since he was in 4-H in high school.

"I've got this pasture. Every year I have five or six or eight steers," he said.

Furtney asked friends of his who are experienced hunters to shoot the animals. They did so Saturday afternoon. Because the field where they are is so muddy, Furtney said he will have to wait until later in the week until plunging temperatures harden the ground enough so he can get equipment in to move the carcasses to a rendering plant. He estimated each of the animals weighs about 1,200 pounds.

Furtney said he had been raising the cattle since early spring. They were due to be slaughtered at the end of the month. Furtney said given the way they were destroyed, there is nothing of value left of the animals. He estimated they were worth about $10,000 total.

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