ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) -- A judge agreed Thursday to allow an eastern New Mexico rancher to sell his herd of allegedly emaciated cattle to a Texas buyer after a state agency seized livestock from his drought-stricken ranch.
A Tucumcari district attorney told the Albuquerque Journal Thursday that District Judge Albert Mitchell agreed to allow Double V Ranch owner Richard Evans to sell the herd to a buyer in Pampa, Texas. The move clears the way for the cattle to be trucked out of state, starting Monday, said 10th Judicial District Attorney Tim Rose.
Meanwhile, the New Mexico Livestock Board has started trucking some 270 cattle from the Double V Ranch south of Fort Sumner to a feed lot near Clayton.
New Mexico Livestock Board officials served a search warrant at the 180,000-acre ranch earlier this month and say they found at least 25 dead animals and others at risk of starving to death. The warrant also authorized the agency to remove cattle from the ranch.
Evans was charged with 25 counts of cruelty to animals.
At a hearing Thursday, Mitchell approved a plan, proposed by Evans, to sell the entire herd, Rose said. The judge's order also made the buyer responsible for all the costs involved in feeding and transporting the cattle, Rose said.
Rose said the size of the herd at the Double V Ranch may be as large as 1,700, exceeding earlier estimates of 1,000.
The plan approved Thursday also created a process for reimbursing the state Livestock Board for costs associated with feeding and transporting the cattle.
"Obviously, it wouldn't be the going rate for a healthy cow," he said. "These are obviously very thin cattle with health issues."
New Mexico is in its driest two-year period in nearly 120 years of record-keeping.
A number listed for Double V Ranch was a fax number. No other listing for Evans was found.