This past Sunday a Graceville cattle rancher watched more than three dozen of his cows die in just two to three hours. Now, state agriculture officials think they know what killed them, and it does not appear to have been an accident.
James Fowler's initial suspicion was confirmed when he got the lab results from the state Department of Agriculture.
James says, “We saw that chemical temik. We saw it Monday afternoon. We found it in the mill Monday afternoon. We wasn't sure, but when it came back from the lab, there wasn't any question."
Fowler’s cows were poisoned by a highly toxic chemical called temik.
Ed Jowers, Jackson County Extension Director, says, “In this part of the country we use it for nematode control primarily. Nematodes is small microscopic worm that affects the root systems of plants."
Jackson County extension director Ed Jowers says this pesticide is highly regulated and anyone using or even buying it in Florida is required to have a permit.
"There is a list of people that have bought temik you can find, but who's to say that that temik wasn't stolen from a farm?"
James Fowler grows his own corn feed. He says someone had to deliberately put the chemical into his feed mill.
"Somehow it got mill and mixed with the corn, and when the cows ate it, it killed them too."
The Jackson County Sheriff's Office originally called the cows’ death a suspicious event, but with temick in the feed, it's now a criminal investigation.
The Fowlers did not have insurance on their livestock, which was estimated at $35,000. Friends have set up a relief fund for them at Peoples Bank in Graceville and the Bank of Jackson County in Graceville.