Last year, more than 1,000 head of cattle were stolen from California farms and ranches, and a new bill on its way to the state senate hopes to crackdown on these thefts.
According to the Capital Press, Republican Assemblyman – and rancher – Frank Bigelow introduced Assembly Bill 924 in an effort to increase penalties for livestock theft. The bill bases penalties on the value of stolen livestock and uses the fines to help fund the state’s efforts to investigate livestock thefts.
State lawmakers did water-down Bigelow’s bill, however, by removing a provision that would have allowed prosecutors to seek jail time for repeat offenders.
Even without potential jail time, Justin Oldfield, the California Cattlemen's Association Vice President of Government Relations, believes that the bill still “does do something very beneficial.”
"The Bureau of Livestock Identification is fee-based," he said. "This would be an additional resource they can use. Even if it's only $50,000 a year, that's still money in their pockets for them to go out and investigate cases of theft. Ultimately the bureau works with law enforcement on this stuff."
USA Today reports that cattle theft is increasing a economic woes and livestock prices rise. The problems aren’t confined to California – thefts have been reported across the country. Recently five cattle rustlers were arrested and charged in Louisiana. In Alabama, the state’s cattlemen’s association is offering $1,000 for information leading to the arrest of those responsible for stealing nearly 50 head of cattle.