While detectives continue to search for those responsible for shooting three cows in a brutal incident over the weekend at a nearby ranch, community groups have stepped in with growing cash rewards for information that could help police.

RUCH — While detectives continue to search for those responsible for shooting three cows in a brutal incident over the weekend at a nearby ranch, community groups have stepped in with growing cash rewards for information that could help police.

The Humane Society of the United States, which has a public awareness campaign to educate about the connection between animal cruelty and human violence, has offered a $2,500 reward for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the malicious shooting.

The Rogue Valley Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association, which uses the ranch property for glider landings, has raised more than $3,000 for a reward.

Crime Stoppers of Southern Oregon, which offers rewards of up to $1,000 depending on the type of information provided and the type of crime involved, also has taken on this case.

The Jackson County Sheriff's Department said that someone shot three pregnant cows that were resting near feed racks on Tim Hunter's ranch in the 6900 block of Highway 238 near Bishop Creek. The shooter used a shotgun loaded with slugs. The shooting likely happened around 2 a.m. Saturday, investigators said.

One of the cows was dragged up a road off Highway 238, where the shooters hacked at it in a rough attempt to butcher it, investigators said. The other two cows, which would have calved in February, had to be humanely killed and butchered when their injuries were evaluated in the morning, Hunter said.

Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call the sheriff's department tip line at 774-8333 or Crime Stoppers at (800) 3-DETECT or (800) 333-8328.

Reach reporter Anita Burke at 776-4485, or e-mail aburke@mailtribune.com.