Cattle theft is on the rise in Oklahoma and there are several reasons, according to detectives working to stamp out rustling.
"We deal with this every day and the issue with cattle theft is it is a low-risk, high-reward crime," said Bart Perrier, a special ranger for the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA).
Perrier said the recent drought greatly reduced cattle numbers in the Southern Plains, raising cattle prices for the animals remaining in pastures and feedlots.
Demand for beef products has increased significantly at the same time, pushing prices at the supermarket higher.
Oklahoma agricultural statistics show the average size of a beef cow herd in Oklahoma is fewer than 40 animals. Most beef cattle herds are owned by family farmer/ranchers who rely on crops as well as cattle for their income. Too often, particularly at spring planting and fall harvest, cattle take a back seat in the producer's list of things to take care of that day.
Cattle are pretty much left to themselves, living on land only suited to native pasture and not to intensive farming. Such locations can be out at the end of the pavement, miles from where people live and where only a few people are seen weekly, much less daily.
So, for some enterprising, but not too ethical people, the temptation can be great, Perrier said.
Cattle usually are gentle and unassuming creatures. They see humans as sources of food on a regular basis. However, during the growing season, from early spring until frost in the fall, beef cows are expected to utilize pasture grass and pond water to do well. Except for the occasional placing of mineral in the pasture for cattle consumption, they are left alone. More....