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Cattle Rustlers

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VB RANCH

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By Laura Zuckerman

SALMON, Idaho | Sun Nov 27, 2011 3:49pm EST

SALMON, Idaho (Reuters) - Cattle rustlers, casting aside saddle and spurs for modern horsepower, are roaming the West with four-wheel drive and GPS technology in a resurgence of livestock thievery considered a hanging offense on the old frontier.

State livestock officials said the increase in cattle crimes was linked to the slumping economy, soaring beef prices and the advent of handheld global positioning systems that allow rustlers to more easily navigate the wide-open range.

They said contemporary thieves may find it more convenient and lucrative to pick off a couple cows, worth as much as $2,000 a head, than to rob a convenience store.

"When the market is extremely high, the bad guys come out," Idaho State Brand Inspector Larry Hayhurst said.

Hayhurst said the incidence of cattle gone missing under suspicious circumstances in Idaho during the past three months had already surpassed the 250 such reports he received for all of last year. That coincides with spikes in cattle thefts in Colorado, Montana, Nevada, Wyoming and elsewhere.

Regionwide tallies for rustling are hard to come by because no uniform reporting system or central database exists.

However, Western state livestock agencies have put the value of cattle deemed lost, stolen, strayed or in questionable ownership in recent years in the tens of millions of dollars.

In Montana alone, investigators have recovered more than 7,300 stolen or missing cattle worth nearly $8 million during the past three years, numbers believed to account for just a fraction of the problem, officials said.

"What you see as far as figures from livestock departments is a drop in the bucket from what's been going on," said Kim Baker, president of the Montana Cattlemen's Association.

RIDING THE BRAND

For ranchers in the open-range states of the West, the livestock brand -- a symbol of ownership imprinted on the animal's hide -- is considered a cow's only return address.

Brands provide vital clues for Western agricultural inspectors who are required to verify ownership of livestock when it is sold, shipped for slaughter or transported over certain distances.

But in a region where several hundred brand inspectors oversee millions of cows on rangelands stretching across some of the nation's most rugged and remote terrain, there are many ways to beat the system, said Rick Wahlert, veteran brand inspector with the Colorado Agriculture Department.

Today's rustlers bear little resemblance to the varmints of yore, whose crimes prompted the formation in the western United States of cattle associations that paid a bounty to bring cow thieves to justice.

For starters, rustlers are now equipped with trucks and trailers that allow them to easily haul cattle to distant slaughterhouses and auction barns where re-branded animals may draw less suspicion.

Western livestock owners who turn their cows out in the spring on sprawling grazing allotments they lease from the federal government expect to lose up to 3 percent of their stock to injuries, illnesses and predators.

But any such losses, or any missing animals suspected of having been stolen, typically go unnoticed until late fall, when ranchers gather in their herds and sort out which animals will be kept for breeding, put up for sale or go to slaughter.

Moreover, cattle can end up categorized as lost or missing, rather than stolen, even though evidence may suggest theft, said Terry Fankhauser, vice president of the Colorado Cattlemen's Association.

"We're ruling out alien abduction," he said.

BREEDING ISSUES

Theft costs ranchers dearly in an industry that generates billions of dollars in revenues a year in Western states.

The losses are not tallied in dollars alone. Producers build up their herds while selecting for preferred traits over the course of generations, said Wyatt Prescott, vice president of the Idaho Cattle Association.

"Cows are professional mothers," he said. "It's their job to get bred every year, calve successfully and bring that calf home in the fall. You go through a lot trying to replace that cow."

The recent comeback in cattle rustling has stockmen on edge across the region.

After 200 cattle went missing last year in a four-county area of western Idaho, Tom Blessinger, a rancher north of Boise, said he was writing down the license plate numbers of any unfamiliar vehicles he sees.

"That's a lot of meat," he said. "This isn't a case of the cowboy with the good horse and the dog. This is too many."

Authorities in Montana and Nevada last month broke up a multi-state cattle-rustling ring in an investigation expected to bring criminal charges against suspects in Oregon, Nevada and Washington state, said Blaine Northrop, enforcement supervisor with the Nevada Department of Agriculture. The livestock bust has so far netted 61 head of cattle.

Officials said livestock thieves typically know how to handle animals and how to elude the industry's safeguards.

"Just anybody off the street can't walk in and steal a cow," Idaho's Prescott said.

Once snatched, cows are hard to get back. Recovery rates for stolen cattle can be as low as 10 percent.

Two years after the fact, authorities are still searching for rustlers who stole 21 cows and an equal number of calves from the Cross Ranch in northwestern Montana, and owner Mary Cross said her operation continues to suffer the effects of the thefts.

"It takes the profit right out," she said.

(Editing by Steve Gorman and Cynthia Johnston)
 

cure

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I was talking to my cousin that runs up in that area the other day and he was telling me that the outfit he works for lost 15 pairs this past summer. I can't figure people out if someone came up to my place and asked if I could help them out with some meat I would give them some I believe in helping someone in need. But to go out and steal from me you had better be able to out run my bullets. I have no use for theives
 
A

Anonymous

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In Montana alone, investigators have recovered more than 7,300 stolen or missing cattle worth nearly $8 million during the past three years, numbers believed to account for just a fraction of the problem, officials said.

99% of these are not stolen- just strays...Any time a brand inspector finds a stray in a herd or out of place an estray report is sent to Helena...

Altho thats not saying there isn't more theft going on too... I had a fellow report to me the other day that he was missing 31 head of cows... Altho he thinks they are probably in someones herd that hasn't gathered yet- and will be showing up in next few weeks...
 

Mike

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Oldtimer said:
In Montana alone, investigators have recovered more than 7,300 stolen or missing cattle worth nearly $8 million during the past three years, numbers believed to account for just a fraction of the problem, officials said.

99% of these are not stolen- just strays...Any time a brand inspector finds a stray in a herd or out of place an estray report is sent to Helena...

Altho thats not saying there isn't more theft going on too... I had a fellow report to me the other day that he was missing 31 head of cows... Altho he thinks they are probably in someones herd that hasn't gathered yet- and will be showing up in next few weeks...

Yea, they're lyin'. There ain't no stealing going on and they're just making 99% of it up. :roll: If there were it would be Bush's fault? :lol:
 

hopalong

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Do you have facts to back up the 99% claim that they are false oldtimer???
We need to take it as fact the you heard from someone that is missing some cows but figures they are in someone elses herd???
Every other state is being hit but Montana is not ????
99 out of 100 claims are lies?????
 

George

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Around here the biggest problem is in the spring several guys would jump a fence, grab a new born calf and be gone in a heartbeat.

One guy sold over 100 "orphaned" beef calves one year and he lived in an appartment. The state police could not prove he was stealing but put enough heat on him he changed and moved to Florida - - - -probably still doing the same thing.
 

hopalong

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Bullhauler said:
I guess it would be asking too much for mike and hoppy to keep their hate in political bull.

Not at all if people back up statements with fact!!!
An that was all I was asking for, having had cows come up missing my self.
The 99% figure seems rather large, DON"T you??? :wink:
 
A

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hopalong said:
Do you have facts to back up the 99% claim that they are false oldtimer???
We need to take it as fact the you heard from someone that is missing some cows but figures they are in someone elses herd???
Every other state is being hit but Montana is not ????
99 out of 100 claims are lies?????

Most the time there are not even claims filed...Often the owner hasn't even missed them yet...Most these cattle are found during fall roundup/shipping in the neighbors pasture- and the brand inspector notifies the owner- and a stray report is filled out and sent to Helena... The Dept of Livestock then uses these reports to show the importance of brand inspection- and how many cattle it returns to the rightful owner...

The brand inspector I was helping last week found 2 pairs of a neighbors cattle in with his (which the owner hadn't missed yet- altho he had gathered his pasture a couple weeks before)- he corraled them and notified the neighbor who came and got them- and then sent a stray report to Helena notifying of their return...But there was no idea or intent of anyone stealing...

Every month or two the state also comes out with an Estrayed or Stolen report of livestock reported missing by the owners... Many of these end up being found just as strays and are taken off the next list...But some are never found- dead or stolen... And I agree with this article- during years of high cattle prices cattle theft definitely increases...
 

hopalong

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I do not see that as fact oldtimer. only your word and everyone knows that is not very trustworthy Name names show statistics, show newspaper clippings, not hearsay!!! 99% show where you came up with that claim!!!!If 99 of your neighbors claimed a loss as did you that must mean they all lied..
Had you said 50% maybe someone might have believed you((not many)) but some..
Bull hauler asked why a couple of us hit on you in here instead of political , maybe if you told a little of the truth here instead of embellishing the truth, we would not need to show how little of a man you are!!!!!! :D
 

Silver

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In Montana alone, investigators have recovered more than 7,300 stolen or missing cattle worth nearly $8 million during the past three years, numbers believed to account for just a fraction of the problem, officials said.

Odds are good OT is right or close enough to right for this conversation Hoppy. Why don't you take your attitude back to PB and carry on your irritating ankle biting over there.
Even if OT is dead wrong you don't need to behave like that in here.



EH????
 

mrj

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Years ago, when cattle prices spiked up pretty good, there was quite a lot of 'rustling'. When attending a Brand Conference in FL, where the 'apartment living' rustler seems to have been moving, someone asked during a tour of a large FL ranch, some asked about rustling prevention. There were many drainage canals and the rancher pointed to them and said "aligators patrol the pastures and we have no trouble with rustlers!"

There were news stories of a fairly lively 'cattle re-location program' a few years ago in SD involving a motor home as an un-suspected mode of transport.

mrj
 

George

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I feel having the only branded cattle within about 100 miles just makes it easier for the crooks to go elseware!

This brand is 4 years old and can't be read from a distance but up close you can tell what it is and at a distance you can still tell it is there.

4yearoldbrand.jpg


This brand is about a month or so old - - - - I don't think I get them hot enough as after about 8 to 10 years they are very hard to read but I have recovered cattle three times due to the brands, once it was 16 head which is enough to get my attention.

Montholdbrand.jpg


Indiana charges $25.00 per year to keep brands active - - -is that fair? I guess they need some sort of check and balance for their trouble.

Ear tags help me with my management but brands help keep the neighbors honest!
 

VCC

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I can see if your missing one or two that, they may turn up with the neighbors herd, but the rancher in Cheyenne WY, missing 143, 3 year old cows is probably not going to find them with the neighbors herd.

143 B, Red, Red w/face 3+ year old cows, Last seen November of 2010 and Feb, 2011 in the Powder River area. That gives someone who wants them bad enough 10 months to move them if they moved them in March, 9 months later their going to find them? I think not. At 70 cents a pound that’s about $110110.00 someone made and someone lost.
 

jodywy

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Lonecowboy said:
lots of times large groups of missing cattle is an inside job-

look for insurance claims to be made
or a morgate on the cows, usually only a part of the herd never shows up(or existed ).
But with prices high there are both cows and sheep getting stole
 

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