Producer organizations and law-enforcement agencies around the country are warning ranchers to be on the lookout for cattle rustlers. Several recent news reports note that the on-going economic recession has contributed to a significant upswing in cattle theft.

A March 24 article in the New York Times described the trend, noting a recent theft of 53 Brahman crossbreed cows valued at about $50,000 from an operation in ChristianCounty, Mo. Similar thefts have occurred in neighboring southwest Missouri counties, with 41 cows stolen in LawrenceCounty and 30 head stolen over the past six months in BarryCounty. The sheriff in GreeneCounty is quoted in the story, saying 10 incidents of rustling in his county since October have accounted for the loss of 93 cattle.

The article also documents incidents of rustling in South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana.

The Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association also reports a big increase in cattle rustling, saying 6,404 cattle in Texas and Oklahoma were stolen or missing in 2008, up from 2,400 the year before.

TSCRA employs 29 special rangers stationed strategically throughout Texas and Oklahoma who have in-depth knowledge of the cattle industry and are trained in all facets of law enforcement, according to the association. During 2008, TSCRA rangers investigated 902 cases in Texas and Oklahoma, and recovered or accounted for 5,422 head of cattle, 49 horses, 19 trailers and other ranch property, with a total value of $4,800,000.

A news article from Colorado notes that almost 450 head of cattle have been reported missing from GarfieldCounty ranches since July 1. Colorado Cattleman’s Association President Paul Bernklau says in the article that while some of the missing animals might not have been stolen, theft is on the rise across the Mountain West region, with about 3,000 head reported missing to state and local brand boards and ag officials over the past year.

Bernklau says the CCA is working with Colorado Division of Wildlife and other state agencies, making law-enforcement personnel aware of the problem and encouraging them to watch for potential rustling. He also encourages ranchers and the general public to keep an eye out for suspicious activity involving cattle round-ups or transport, and to call neighbors or local law-enforcement agencies to report such incidents.

For the New York Times article, click here. For the article about rustling in Coloradoclick here: