HONOKAA » Two men have been charged with livestock theft after a calf was found shot and skinned on a Big Island organic farm.
The farm manager said the men didn’t mean to commit a crime and were just trying to put an injured calf "out of its misery" and were trying not to be wasteful by skinning it for meat.
"These kids made a bad decision instead of going to get the owner, but they didn’t know the owner," said Zack Gibson, manager of Puuala Farm & Ranch near Honokaa, told the Hawaii Tribune-Herald. "And the calf’s in the gulch. So they made a decision to shoot it."
Jason James Williams, 25, and Lonnie James Knutson, 22, were arrested Sunday on suspicion of livestock theft and carrying an unloaded firearm. They were charged with livestock theft, a felony, police spokeswoman Chris Loos said Tuesday.
The calf had been "cut up," said police Capt. Andrew Burian.
The two men are volunteers from Washington state who are working on the farm to learn about organic farming, Gibson said. He said they made a "stupid" choice to shoot the calf instead of contacting the owner, who is leasing ranch land from Gibson’s father. Gibson said the rancher, with whom he is embroiled in a water dispute, called police.
The rancher, Peter De Luz, couldn’t be reached for comment.
"It’s not like these kids shot a calf that was next to its mother," Gibson said. "It had been stuck in a gulch for who knows how long — maybe a day or two. And it probably wasn’t very well off."