B-47255 February 6, 1945

B-47255: Feb 6, 1945

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Wilsey: Reference is made to your letter of October 27. Requesting to be informed whether payment is authorized on the voucher therewith transmitted in favor of Walter M. In the past with no logging above his ranch the cattle have not bothered in the settlement around Speelyai and Congar. In one case a logger was knocked down and trampled by one of the animals. Arrangements were made with Mr. Later the sheriff was notified again and he made another trip to the area. In the meantime the lives of the individuals in the valley were still endangered. Several of the woman in the area were kept in their houses all day because of the cattle being around outside. The situation got so bad that finally three of the animals were shot July 15 by a local resident.

B-47255 February 6, 1945

Mr. L.P. Wilsey, Authorized Certifying Officer, Forest Service, Department of Agriculture, 214 Mayer Building, Portland 4, Oregon.

Dear Mr. Wilsey:

Reference is made to your letter of October 27, 1944 (A, Disbursement, vouchers), requesting to be informed whether payment is authorized on the voucher therewith transmitted in favor of Walter M. Ternquist in the amount of $25.20, for the services furnished by him in burying three carcasses of bulls under circumstances recited in Memorandum from District Ranger James P. Landon, as follows:

"It has been the custom in past years for the cattle of Ole Peterson to run at large in the Lewis River area. In the past with no logging above his ranch the cattle have not bothered in the settlement around Speelyai and Congar. This last summer the logging operations on the upper river drive the cattle, including nine bulls, into the settled area below. The bulls became mean and dangerous, and in several instances chased residents into houses or made them run for protection. In one case a logger was knocked down and trampled by one of the animals. The valley residents signed and presented to the Skauania County sheriff. The sheriff made a
trip into the area and notified Mr. Peterson that he must get rid of the
bulls or prevent their running at large. Arrangements were made with Mr.
Thunder, Woodland butcher, to come up and kill the animals. Mr. Thunder
appeared over the 4th of July week-end and slaughtered two of the animals.
Mr. Peterson refused to sell him any of the others, Later the sheriff was
notified again and he made another trip to the area, notifying Mr.
Peterson for the second time that he should get rid of the bulls. Mr.
Peterson, I believe, contacted another butcher who eventually took one of
the animals. In the meantime the lives of the individuals in the valley
were still endangered. Several of the woman in the area were kept in
their houses all day because of the cattle being around outside. The
situation got so bad that finally three of the animals were shot July 15
by a local resident. This incident was on private lands adjacent to the
Lewis River Guard Station. The carcasses lay not over 200 yards from the
government mess hall, which at that time was being operated for feeding a
fire suppression crew of fifteen men. The mess hall received the full
effect of stench and flies every afternoon when the upstream wind blew."

"After the animals were killed we contacted the owner asking him what he
planned to do with the bodies. The individual who shot the animals out
their throats as they would bleed and notified Peterson immediately.
Nothing was done to remove the animals. Later Mr. Peterson said he had no
plans as to the disposal of the carcasses. As the stench began to grow
the county officials were approached as to what to do with the animals.
They stated they had no jurisdiction in the matter and that it was
entirely Mr. Peterson's responsibility. As the weather was hot and the
carcasses were decomposing rapidly it was necessary to do something
immediately to safeguard the health of the federal employees staying at
the Guard Station."

"The man who shot the bulls was without means to bury them. The owner
refused to do so. The sheriff of the county refused to do more than
stated above. The dead animals constituted community nuisance but the
neighbors were not organized to handle. The dead animals constituted a
menacing nuisance to health and offense to camp crew."

"The case was presented to the Forest Supervisor by phone, who personally
called the sheriff's office and was told the county officials would not
take any action toward removing or enforcing removal by the owner.
Thereupon the Forest Supervisor, K.P. Oscil, instructed Ranger London to
engage a logger with a tractor to bury the carcasses, to remove a rapidly
increasing menace to the health of the Forest Service employees a the
guard station."

"Mr. Walter N.T. Sumquist, a local logger, was asked if he would bury the
animals with his tractor. This he agreed to do, and he accomplished it
the next after it the next afternoon, July 17. At this time the animals
were decomposed to such an extent that he had difficulty in getting close
enough to carry out his job."

It thus appears that no Government officer or employee was responsible for
the shooting of the bulls; that their carcasses were not on Government
land; and that while their burial was apparently authorized by a
Government official such officer acted without authority in so doing --
there being no legal duty on the part of the Federal Government to remove
local nuisances not on Government land and not caused by action of any
Government official. That duty would appear to rest with the local law
enforcement officers and their failure or refusal to act does not transfer
that duty to the Federal Government. Section 3678, Revised Statutes,
provides:

"Sec. 3678. All sums appropriated for the various branches of expenditure
in the public service shall be applied solely to the objects for which
they are respectively made, and for no others."

I find no provision in the appropriation for Salaries and Expenses, Forest
Service, National Forest Protection and Management, act of June 28, 1944,
Public Law 367, authorizing expenditures of the nature here involved.

The voucher, which is returned herewith, may not be certified for payment.

Respectfully,

(Signed) Lindsay C. Warren
Comptroller General of the United States