Animals starved to death at dilapidated Minn. farm

Published 11:50 am Wednesday, March 30, 2011

TOWER, Minn. (AP) — The owner of a dilapidated farm in northeastern Minnesota has been cited for animal neglect after investigators said they found half a dozen animals starved to death.

Marcia Berg, 45, will have to appear in court at a later date to answer the misdemeanor citation that could bring up to 90 days in jail and a $3,000 fine, the Duluth News Tribune reported.

Four horses, a cow and a goat were found dead at the farm near Tower, about 90 miles north of Duluth. There was no electricity and no water available, St. Louis County sheriff’s officials said. Several animals were still alive, including six horses, two cats, two ferrets, two goats and a dog, cow and donkey.

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“It was clear that starvation was an issue, and lack of water,” said Supervising Deputy Shannon Schultz in Virginia, Minn. “She (Berg) has good hay out there now and ample water … and she wants to keep the animals. If she had not been able to care for them, we would have removed them from her.”

A phone number listed for Berg rang unanswered Tuesday.

Lisa Anderson, who lives about two miles from the farm, told the News Tribune she went to investigate on March 17 after hearing there were dead horses in the area.

“I didn’t get 10 feet before I saw the first dead horse, a palomino. There were feces everywhere, and dead animals on top of feces. It was the worst thing I’ve ever seen,” Anderson said.

Anderson said she also found a live dog in a cage in the unlocked trailer home on the property “with its feet stained red from living in its own feces and urine.”

Officers visited the farm with a veterinarian and Humane Society investigator March 18 and told Berg to provide water, food and shelter for her animals. Investigators returned to the farm about a week later and said they found she was complying.

Sheriff Ron Litman said his office continues to monitor the farm.

Litman said his office was informed of the situation March 4. The sheriff said he believes his officers handled the case as best they could and took proper action.

“We absolutely take these cases seriously. We still get way too many of them,” Litman said. “And there are probably many we don’t hear about.”