EPHRAIM, Sanpete County — Pranksters who released turkeys in two student apartment complexes near Snow College apparently had nothing to do with the clubbing deaths of 1,200 turkeys 25 miles away in Fountain Green.

Both incidents happened Saturday night, so initially officers thought they might be connected.

But both the Sanpete County Sheriff's Department and Snow College Public Safety Department reported Wednesday they had identified three young men, two of them Snow College students, responsible for the student housing incident.

Bob Wright, Snow public safety director, said the young men had confessed to taking two live turkeys from a farm near Ephraim and releasing them at Snow Village and Park Place, privately owned apartment complexes that rent to students.

Meanwhile, the Sanpete Sheriff's Department issued a statement saying that based on evidence gathered at the Fountain Green farm, it did not believe the young men were involved in the clubbings. The sheriff's office said it had given information from its investigation of the student housing incident to the county attorney for possible filing of charges.

Wright said that while he was relieved that the young men were not involved in the clubbing deaths, Snow College students needed to understand that taking animals from a farm is unacceptable. He said his staff would conduct a campaign to educate the college community "about the seriousness of these types of pranks."

Agricultural organizations have put up a $5,000 reward for information leading to arrest and conviction of the people involved in slaughtering the 1,200 turkeys. Moroni Feed Co., the grower cooperative that processes and markets turkeys raised in Sanpete County, is offering $3,000, while the Utah Farmer's Union and Utah Farm Bureau have each put up $1,000.

"Utah's turkey growers and livestock ranchers take pride in treating their animals humanely," Utah Farm Bureau President Leland Hogan. "We wish to send a message to those who treat animals otherwise that these acts of violence strike at the foundation of our industry — and we will invest considerable resources to locate and punish those responsible."

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