The Sovereign Rancher

Below you will find the chronological archives of a Colorado cattle rancher named Vern Wagner. Vern stood against the state in legal battles that stretched out over a decade. Corrupt officials abused their positions of power to steal everything Vern had. Vern was born in 1933 to a cattle ranching family near Lamar, CO. He left home at age 14, served in the armed forces, and graduated with a degree in agriculture from CSU. By the year 2000, Vern started a grazing association with small parcel owners near Hartsle, CO. The operation quickly expanded to over 8,000 private & BLM leases and Vern’s Cross Slash Ranch controlled roughly 130,000 acres, 2,000 cattle, and 140 horses during it’s prime. The elevation in the area was at roughly 9,000ft. For the high altitude ranching, Vern raised Black Baldy cows.

The time line below tells the story of how the State’s monopoly on violence took everything from Vern and his family. Over the years, Vern was thrown in jail with no-charges filed, later courts found that 10 of his constitutional rights were violated. The State stole his cattle and auctioned them off to pay for their own expenses in investigating him, only to have a jury find him guilty of a single count of animal cruelty which was later overturned and all charges dismissed. Eventually everything Vern had was stolen through the attrition of several legal battles against the state; resulting in the foreclosure of his home, his sons leaving to pursue other businesses, and his wife suffering a heart attack from the stress of it all. These are the archives of the local newspaper, The Flume, which chronicled Vern’s legal battles over the period from 2003 until 2014. I met Vern and his wife, Veyon, in early 2012 and felt compelled to share the records of his story here.

"If you doubt anything I am saying, come ride with me. I will prove it to you."

-Vern Wagner

The Archives

2003 July 04 “BOCC fleshes out trespass grazing ordinance”

2003 July 11 “Grazing ordinance is without purpose”

2003 August 29 “New beef: grazing ordinance”

2003 December 19 “Grazing ordinance challenged”

2004 January 16 “Groome now a Deputy DA”

2004 February 06 “Unlawful Grazing Ordinance set for judicial review”

2004 February 20 “Colorado eyes ruling”

2004 February 27 “Mayhew: ordinance invalid”

2004 March 05 “Wagner pleased with Mayhew’s ruling”

2004 March 12 “Cooperation sought by rancher”

2004 March 19 “Ruling is appealed”

2004 March 26 “Wagner’s math wrong”

2004 May 14 “Mayhew’s ruling appealed”

2004 July 30 “VS makes its way into county”

2004 September 03 “Grumet gates have residents riled”

2004 November 26 “Mayhew’s decision on ordinance reversed”

2005 January 07 “Court to review ruling”

2005 April 22 “Supreme Court denies writs”

2005 August 12 “Is it animal cruelty?”

2006 March 17 “Hartsel Springs Ranch wins eviction”

2006 July 07 “Ranchers learn to survive”

2007 January 12 “Dusting off the bulldozers”

2007 February 23 “Park County cattlemen ineligible for disaster aid”

2007 March 02 “Road & Bridge overtime hours adding up”

2008 July 18 “Thanks from Ranch Rodeo”

2008 July 18 “Fair’s first weekend offers plenty of fun”

2008 August 01 “Thanks, community”

2009 July 17 “50th Wedding Anniversary Celebration”

2009 July 17 “Thanks from Ranch Rodeo for support”

2009 August 07 “Hartsel rancher arrested for contempt”

2009 August 14 “Contempt charges dropped against Vern Wagner”

2009 August 14 “Hartsel rancher replies”

2009 August 31 “Wagner again jailed on contempt charges”

2010 April 03 “Hartsel-area rancher being investigated for animal neglect”

2010 April 27 “Dead cow total up to 100, says Sheriff’s Office”

2010 May 07 “County cattle grazing”

2010 May 12 “Temporary restraining order granted against Vern Wagner”

2010 May 14 “Temporary restraining order granted against Vern Wagner”

2010 May 14 “Vern Wagner’s cattle being seized on May 14”

2010 May 14 “Judge denies motion to stay seizure of Vern Wagner cattle”

2010 May 14 “Doubts on accusations versus rancher”

2010 May 20 “Court to determine if Wagner is fit owner”

2010 May 21 “Wagner will keep most cows”

2010 May 21 “Wake-up call”

2010 May 25 “Wagner will keep most cows, at least for now”

2010 May 28 “What pictures say”

2010 June 18 “Questions linger in Wagner case”

2010 June 25 “Cattle owners say they’ll withdraw from Wagner’s ranch”

2010 October 08 “Hartsel-area rancher Vern Wagner’s 2009 contempt order reversed”

2010 October 22 “Not for Judge Groome”

2010 October 29 “Wagner advised of rights in contempt charge”

2010 December 02 “Agreement reached before Nov. 23 Wagner contempt hearing”

2010 December 02 “Thanks from Wagners”

2011 January 06 “The Flume’s 2010 year in review”

2011 January 13 “Hartsel-area rancher files Chapter 12 bankruptcy for company”

2011 January 21 “Disagrees with judge”

2011 February 18 “Thanks, Vern Wagner”

2011 July 22 “Hartsel rancher Vern Wagner charged with animal cruelty”

2011 August 05 “About Vern Wagner”

2011 September 02 “Vern Wagner’s criminal cases on hold until outcome of civil case”

2011 September 09 “Wagner sued by Thousand Peaks Ranch Association”

2011 December 02 “Vern Wagner trial to begin on Dec. 5”

2011 December 05 “Wagner trial on cattle management under way”

2011 December 06 “Wagner trial continues”

2011 December 07 “Day three of Wagner trial concludes”

2011 December 09 “Decision on Wagner trial to come next week”

2011 December 09 “Wagner takes the stand in day four of trial”

2011 December 12 “Wagner’s fate to be decided by Dec. 14”

2011 December 15 “Wagner’s fate to be decided this week”

2011 December 15 “Wagner banned from owning, managing cattle in Park County”

2011 December 23 “Wagner barred from owning cattle in Park County”

2011 December 23 “Proud to know Vern Wagner”

2012 January 06 “The Flume’s 2011 year in review”

2012 January 06 “LETTER: Supports Wagner”

2012 January 13 “Vern Wagner set for April 30 misdemeanor trial”

2012 January 21 “LETTER: Supporting Wagners”

2012 January 27 “Vern Wagner seeks change of venue”

2012 February 03 “Charges expanded in rancher’s 2010 animal cruelty case”

2012 February 04 “LETTER: View on Vern Wagner”

2012 February 17 “LETTER: Support for Wagner”

2012 February 17 “Change of venue denied in Wagner case”

2012 March 30 “Wagner trial to begin April 2”

2012 April 06 “Wagner trial under way”

2012 April 12 “Wagner decision expected”

2012 April 27 “Court finds for cattle lessors in Wagner civil trial”

2012 June 01 “Republicans debate in Bailey”

2012 August 27 “LETTER: About Vern Wagner”

2012 September 21 “LETTER: On Wagner’s cattle”

2012 October 11 “Vern Wagner losing home, ranch to foreclosure”

2012 October 18 “Vern Wagner views”

2012 October 18 “More from Wagners”

2012 November 30 “Missing Georgia girl found in South Park”

2013 January 04 “LETTER: Supporting Vern Wagner”

2013 January 04 “The Flume’s 2012 year in review”

2013 January 18 “Vern Wagner animal-cruelty trial set to begin”

2013 January 22 “Wagner animal cruelty trial begins in Fairplay”

2013 January 23 “Prosecution cites industry standards in Wagner trial”

2013 January 24 “Rancher Vern Wagner previously investigated, says Animal Control”

2013 January 25 “Prosecution to wrap up its case on Monday in Vern Wagner trial”

2013 January 25 “LETTER: For Vern Wagner”

2013 January 28 “Prosecution rests in Vern Wagner misdemeanor criminal trial”

2013 January 30 “Vern Wagner’s financial history can’t be presented to jurors, judge rules”

2013 January 30 “McKinley in Vern Wagner trial: Cattle loss common during spring storms”

2013 January 31 “Jury deliberations could come Friday in Vern Wagner criminal trial”

2013 February 01 “Vern Wagner trial continues in Fairplay”

2013 February 01 “Jury finds Wagner guilty on one of four counts”

2013 February 01 “Wagner found guilty on one of four counts of animal cruelty”

2013 February 01 “LETTER: Supporting Vern Wagner”

2013 February 08 “Vern Wagner found guilty on one of four counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty”

2013 February 22 “Parked in the Past - Samuel Hartsel, 1860s pioneer rancher”

2013 March 08 “LETTER: Vern Wagner on litigation results”

2013 March 08 “LETTER: Veyon Wagner adds more from Wagners”

2013 March 15 “Watching courtroom testimony just part of captain’s job”

2013 March 22 “More on Vern Wagner”

2013 March 24 “LETTER: Vern Wagner thanks”

2014 January 03 “The Flume’s 2013 year in review”

2014 March 29 “Vern Wagner sentenced to community service in criminal case”

2014 June 06 “Hartsel-area rancher Vern Wagner animal cruelty charges overturned”

2014 June 13 “LETTER: Justice finally served”

2014 June 20 “LETTER: Woodbury and Wagner”

2014 July 11 “LETTER: Relief about Wagner”

2014 July 25 “LETTER: Park County Fair Board The other side of the story”

2014 August 1 “LETTER: Wagner and Meyers parties strongly disagree with eachother”

2014 August 15 “LETTER: To clarify”

2018 May 31 “South Park Symposium returns”