William Holdner pleads not guilty to second-degree crimes

A Scappoose rancher whose herd had been seized this summer pleaded not guilty to 95 counts of second-degree animal neglect Oct. 15.

The charges stem from a warrant served in July that resulted in the seizure of over 160 cattle from William Holdner’s Columbia County properties.

Investigators with the Oregon Humane Society said many of the animals were underweight and sickly. Holdner, who also runs an accounting business in Portland, denied this, arguing the cows were for breeding and, as such, were fed and cared for differently than cows intended to be butchered.

The 86-year-old man said he will fight any charges brought against him by the Columbia County District Attorney’s office.

A pre-trial conference has been set for late November.

The cattle have been under the county’s watch since July 26 and are still being held at a pasture outside St. Helens. They cost roughly $500 a day to care for, according to estimates by OHS employees.

Since the seizure, Holdner has fought to free the herd, saying many of the animals have been sold and need to be delivered to their new owners.

In a prior court action against him, Holdner was convicted of water pollution charges related to his cattle operations and was ordered to liquidate his herd. He sold a number of cattle to Jane Baum, a partner at his accounting firm, and others to the Nevis Company, based in Corbett, according to court documents.

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