The Sam Groome Alpaca Farm in Marathon after 143 alpacas were found to have died over a period of several months. 21 alpacas reportedly survived, according to the CCSPCA (photo provided)

This story was originally published in The Cortland Voice.

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MARATHON, N.Y. — A Cortland County man has been charged in the death of 143 alpacas that were under his care, according to the Cortland County SPCA.

Dayton L. Wood, of Marathon, was arrested Friday and charged with 143 animal counts of animal cruelty.

Wood was reportedly hired by Samuel Groome, the farm’s owner who lives in Florida, to take after the animals, according to CNYCentral.com.

The arrest occurred almost two months after investigators from the CCSPCA’s Law Enforcement Department received an anonymous tip regarding dead alpacas at the Sam Groome Alpaca Farm at 4000 McMahon Road in Marathon.

After hearing this news, Groome visited the farm with SPCA investigators and New York State Police, according to William A. Carr, CCSPCA Chief Law Enforcement Officer.

After a month-long investigation, investigators found that 143 alpacas died “over a period of months” at the Marathon farm, likely from starvation, malnutrition or illness.

Wood was arraigned in Marathon Town Court Friday on 143 counts of Article 26 Section 353 New York State Agriculture and Markets Law, “overdriving, torturing and injuring animals; failure to provide proper sustenance,” a class A Misdemeanor.

Each charge carries a maximum sentence of up to 1 year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

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Peter Blanchard

Peter is the editor and co-founder of The Cortland Voice. Email him at pblanchard@cortlandvoice.com.