MADISON — A Madison landowner who allowed the local snowmobile club to maintain a trail across part of his property has closed the trail after one of his pregnant cows was shot and killed last week.

“They shot her between the eyes,” landowner Clayton Tibbetts said Thursday from his River Road farm. “It had to have been at close range. We raise beef. We’re just farmers. Got draft horses, cows, do a little logging — agricultural people.”

The shooting and the trail closure were met with shock and dismay from the Abnaki Sno Riders, the local snowmobile club, which maintained the trail for members and for the public to enjoy, club secretary LeeAnne Newton said.

“The fact that someone used the snowmobile trail to access Mr. Tibbetts’ property and then proceed to deliberately kill his pregnant cow is very disturbing,” Newton said. “We have been discussing having a spaghetti supper to raise money toward the loss of his cows.”

Newton said the club is small and relies on fundraisers to keep equipment maintained and the trails groomed.

“We work really hard to keep our landowners happy and have to get permission every year for access to the property,” she said. “We hold an annual landowners supper to thank them for the use of their property. Some help us maintain the trails on their property and others let us do what we need to keep the trails in good condition.”

The Abnaki Sno Riders club announced on its Facebook page that the section of trail it calls Club Trail 27 would be closed for the remainder of the season. It runs from the intersection of ITS 87 on River Road from Conjockty Road to what it calls the Bunny Trail, off Adams Road.

Game wardens have been notified, as has the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office. Anyone with information on the shooting is asked to call either agency.

“We are deeply saddened and outraged by the horrible act,” the Facebook post reads. “You are notified that if you go on this trail, you will be trespassing.”

Club President Penny Hay said the shooting happened late on Feb. 15 or early the next morning.

“We’re upset with the whole situation as far as someone utilizing the snowmobile trails to commit this horrendous crime, to take out an innocent animal who wasn’t doing any harm,” Hay said.

Game warden Chad Robertson, who is investigating the report, said by phone that the warden service is continuing to follow up on leads in the case. Anyone with information about it is asked to call Maine State Police headquarters in Augusta at 624-7076.

Meanwhile, about 100 miles to the south, Scarborough police are investigating the shooting death of a pregnant goat at Smiling Hill Farm, a local family-owned dairy farm, which also has welcomed the public onto its property for years. That goat was last seen alive about two days after the Madison incident.

In Madison, Tibbetts, 39, said the snowmobile trail is 25 to 30 feet from the field where the cow was found. He said he has never had a problem before and still does not know who shot the animal or if it even was someone on a snowmobile. Tibbetts said a taxidermist who he gave the animal to told him the cow had not died giving birth, as Tibbetts initially had thought, but had been shot.

The cow was due to give birth in May. Tibbetts said he didn’t dare to try to salvage the meat.

He said the cow was an Angus, raised for beef to feed his family. Financially, the loss exceeds $2,000, not including the lost calf and the price to feed the cow, which the children called Fluffy.

“I shut the trail off because I’d like to find out who did it. I just want people to know that I know that somebody shot the cow,” he said. “We haven’t found out if it was a snowmobiler yet, but it came from that direction. I couldn’t believe it myself. It was shocking.”

He said the lead from the bullet was turned over to the game warden for possible evidence.

He said the cow was a few years old and had given them a couple of calves over the years.

“This would have been her third baby,” he said.

The shooting happened not far from the farmhouse where Tibbetts and his fiancée, Christine Stevens, live with their combined seven children. Tibbetts said they didn’t hear the gunshot.

“I think that’s what happens in a godless society,” Stevens said. “That’s what happens when you don’t have any moral compass. It’s heartbreaking that the cow suffered. She really did. To think that the cow lay there dying with her young inside of her is heartbreaking, because we handled her every day for three years.”

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow

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