EUREKA – On March 19, 2018 Humboldt County Sheriff’s deputies arrested, Raymond Frank Christie, a local rancher, in a large-scale animal cruelty case in which up to 300 cows were found dead and others were found malnourished and/or in small or insufficient corrals.
The arrest was made after local, state and federal investigators served search warrants at four northern Humboldt County properties associated with Christie. During the service of the warrants, investigators located as many as 300 deceased cows, some of which were heaped into large piles approximately 10 feet high near an excavator; others were located laying in or near waterways. Investigators also found a large number of cows contained in small or insufficient corrals and many malnourished animals.
“A case like this requires investigators from many agencies on the local, state and federal level,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. “State investigators with the California Department of Food and Agriculture and California Department of Fish and Wildlife have an expertise in this area that the sheriff’s office was obviously able to draw upon.”
Christie was arrested on the following charges:
- PC 597(a) – Animal cruelty
- PC 597(b) – Causing an animal to be cruelly killed
- PC 597.1 (a) – Failure to provide proper care to an animal
- FG 5652 – Disposal of a carcass within 150 feet of a state waterway
The investigation began five months ago following complaints about properties owned by, or associated Christie. Assisting with the search warrants were:
- Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office
- United States Bureau of Land Management
- United States Department of Agriculture
- California Department of Food and Agriculture
- California Department of Fish and Wildlife
- Humboldt County Code Enforcement
- Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services Hazardous Materials Division
- Humboldt County Animal Control
- Humboldt County Drug Task Force
In addition to the charges Christie was arrested for, further violations found included:
- Moving dairy cattle without official ID tags
- Removal of Brucellosis tags
- Removal of state livestock back tags
- Bringing cattle into California without veterinary inspection certificates or ID tags
- Improper disposal/storage/removal of solid waste
- Improper animal keeping
- Illegal development within a streamside management area
- Cannabis permit violations
- Improper/illegal disposal of biohazard waste
- Building code violations
Additionally, while on the properties, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife discovered the following violations:
- Twenty-one violations of disposal of a carcass within 150 feet of a state waterway
- Seven violations of discharging sediment into state waterways
- Five violations of placement of refuse within 150 feet of a state waterway
- One violation of abandoned motor vehicle in a state waterway
- Eight violations of substantial alteration of bed and banks of a stream without a permit
- Three un-permitted stream crossings
Humboldt County Animal Control found the following violations on the properties:
- Five violations of dogs kept in unsanitary conditions
- Eight violations of dogs without water
- Five violations of inadequate space for dogs to move freely
- Four violations of primarily housing a dog on wire flooring
Violations found by the Humboldt County Animal Control were corrected on scene and the dogs were left in the care of a responsible party.
The California Department of Food and Agriculture has placed 179 head of cattle on hold for repossession pending further investigation. A plan to care for the remaining livestock owned by Christie is still being developed.
Christie was booked into the Humboldt County Correctional Facility with bail set at $25,000.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife as well as other involved state agencies will be requesting additional charges as this investigation continues.
Anyone with information for the Sheriff’s Office regarding these cases or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Sheriff’s Office at 707-445- 7251 or the Sheriff’s Office Crime Tip line at 707-268- 2539.