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Violent Killing Of Pack Animal Outrages Grand County Residents

June 16, 1987

HOT SULPHUR SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) _ Two men arrested in the violent death of a popular 7-year-old U.S. Forest Service llama named Trekker face a preliminary hearing Wednesday on charges of felony theft and cruelty to animals.

Authorities said Charles Mayeski, 19, and Duane Clementz, 21, who are being held in lieu of $2,000 bond, confessed to butchering and eating the llama, a native of South America.

The Forest Service has used llamas since 1979, said Greg Assmus, law enforcement at the Sulphur Ranger Station in Arapaho National Forest.

″They pack up food and tools and help with much of our trail work. This particular llama just loved to hike, so we called him Trekker,″ Assmus said

″He had his own personality. You get attached. We could just talk to him and he would hoof up the trail at any pace we wanted to go.″

″The Forest Service crews were hit pretty hard,″ Assmus said.

Grand County Sheriff H.J. Henderson said the killing ″incensed our local community. It would be like somebody going to the zoo in Denver and killing the bears.″

Mayeski and Clementz, who were arrested May 23, face four felony theft charges and one misdemeanor charge of cruelty to animals. They also face charges in a series of thefts of money and camping equipment in Grand County. Records show Mayeski was wanted for a recent escape from a juvenile correction center in Jefferson County.

Forest Service crew members found the llama’s carcass in his pasture near Shadow Mountain Reservoir last month. The killers apparently took the loins and hindquarters to eat, leaving behind the rest.

″The animal was not only killed,″ said Assmus. ″It was a beating, where they actually held the halter and beat him over the head until he went unconscious, then cut his throat.″

Trekker won first place three times in the Mosquito Pass Boom Town Race, a 25-mile competition for pack animals near Leadville.

Trekker’s official value to the Forest Service was about $2,000.

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