CARLSBAD, N.M. -- The fatal shootings of several cows in southeastern New Mexico have sparked fears of a serial cattle killer running loose.
The Carlsbad Current-Argus reports Eddy County Sheriff's Office announced this week that another six cattle on two separate properties were shot and killed. Detectives say a high-caliber rifle was used in the shooting from within a half-mile radius.
Deputies have ruled out an accidental shooting and don't believe the cows are being killed for meat since they were left in fields.
The case is being labeled as one of "extreme animal cruelty," which is a fourth-degree felony.
"They're not taking meat, they're not taking anything. It's just an act of meanness," Sandi Wilkie with the Eddy County Cattle Growers Association told CBS affiliate KRQE.
Rancher Brooke Wilson told the station she awoke Sunday morning to find two of her cows dead and another injured.
"I can't believe it still, it's heartbreaking honestly," she said.
The shootings come after another cow shooting in June south of Carlsbad.
Lt. Matt Hutchinson says Eddy County has seen an uptick in cattle shootings this year.