Michigan Man Charged for Allegedly Maltreating DNR Donkey

A Bessemer, Mich., man is facing an animal cruelty charge connected to donkeys placed at his cattle farm as part of a state of Michigan program.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Wildlife Biologist and Wolf Specialist Brian Roell said that since 2010 the Michigan DNR has been placing full-sized or giant donkeys at cattle farms around the state. The donkeys are used to prevent wolves from attacking cattle herds, Roell said.

“The donkeys actually don't like canids and do a good job of keeping the wolves away,” said Roell. “It's actually more of a bluff on the donkey's part, but some farmers have told us that the donkeys work too well in that they even keep farm dogs away from the herd.”

Roell said that in the past three years his agency has placed more than 20 donkeys with farmers statewide without incident. However the Michigan DNR recently took back one allegedly maltreated donkey from a cattle farm in Ontonagon County. The allegedly maltreated donkey was one of three animals placed with the same farmer; the other two donkeys allegedly died of neglect, Roell said.

“We got to them as soon as we knew about their condition,” Roell said. “We just couldn't get to the ones that died soon enough.”

An Ontonagon County District Court representative said farmer John Koski was charged with count of misdemeanor cruelty to animals. If convicted, he could face up to a year in jail and fines up to $2,000, the representative said, and Koski is slated to appear in Onogonagon District Court on Dec. 17 for a pretrial hearing.

Koski's attorney Matthew Tingstad said his client has already pleaded not guilty to the charge.

“We're preparing to go to the pretrail hearing and get this straightened out,” he said.

Meanwhile, the surviving donkey received rehabilitative care and has been placed in a new home.

“He was placed in an appropriate home and has a Percheron horse for a pasturemate,” Roell said. “He's doing just fine.”

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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