By Sarah Thomas
Texas cattle thieves made off with more than 10,000 head of cattle this past year — a 35 percent increase from previous years — proving cattle rustling isn’t a relic of the Old West.
The numbers were compiled by the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, which works in conjunction with local law enforcement agencies to investigate, track and recover stolen cattle.
Rusk County rancher Bill Thompson, who’s been running cattle for more than 45 years, knows firsthand the devastation caused by thieves. One hundred cattle once roamed his property, but thieves have cut his herd to 52 during the past 10 years.
“They’ve tried their best to find my cows, but they’ve had no luck at it,” Thompson said Thursday.
Thieves left behind four-wheeler tracks at his ranch after a theft in mid-summer.
Thompson said he believes the thieves used the four wheelers to herd the cattle into a trailer.
What’s worse is the 2011 drought continues to plague ranchers like Thompson, making it difficult to rebuild herds with beef prices at record highs.
Texas lost 600,000 cows in 2011, a 12 percent decline in its cattle population, according to the Texas AgriLife Extension Service.
“I’m not replacing them because they are too blooming high,” he said of prices. More....