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Years-old rancher feud that involved gunfire now includes $53,064 bill in South Dakota

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PIERRE – In a split decision Wednesday the South Dakota Brand Board awarded proceeds from a sale of 46 head of cattle to a rancher from the Manderson area.

Gilvern Keester is to receive $53,064.03 minus legal expenses. Keester’s brand was on 33 of the heifers, steers and bulls.

A rival rancher, Curtis Temple, claimed the animals were stolen from him but declined to pay for DNA tests used in the case by the state Division of Criminal Investigation.

Thirteen of the cattle didn’t have brands. The DNA testing indicated they didn’t belong to Temple.

Temple told the board he was tardy in his branding. His land surrounds the property of Keester.

The two men have a years-old feud that at one point reportedly involved gunfire, according to testimony presented Wednesday.

Temple secured a restraining order against Keester over a 2013 dispute but neither side was able to provide the board with the legal history that led to it.

The showdown over the 46 head came at the Philip livestock market on March 10, 2015. Keester hauled the 13 heifers, 22 steers and 11 bulls from Manderson.

Temple told the board he heard “through the grapevine” about it and went to Philip, where he attempted to load the cattle into a trailer he took there.

A hold was placed on the cattle and they were eventually sold two weeks later.

Board member Myron Williams of Wall made the motion Wednesday to award the proceeds to Keester minus expenses. The vote was 3-1, with Scott Vance of Faith and chairwoman Wanda Blair of Vale agreeing and Bart Blum of Reliance opposed.

The fifth member, Lyla Hutchison of Wounded Knee, recused herself from the hearing and the deliberations. She said she has a land arrangement with Temple.

“So theft’s legal now?” Temple said to the board as he left the room after the vote.

He has 10 days to appeal.

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