Cattle Rustling Alive and Well in Heart of the Canadian West

By Graveland, Bill | The Canadian Press, January 26, 2016 | Go to article overview

Cattle Rustling Alive and Well in Heart of the Canadian West


Graveland, Bill, The Canadian Press


Inside jobs to blame in most cattle rustling

--

STRATHMORE, Alta. - It's not the Wild West but there are still low-down varmints stealing cattle and reaching into the pockets of ranchers in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Cattle rustling has been around for ages and police say it is on the rebound in the heart of Canada's cattle industry, driven largely by ranch hands stealing livestock at a time when cattle prices are high.

"It's still a problem today. It's like any other property, if there's value to it people are going to steal it. In recent years the value of cattle has approximately doubled," said RCMP Cpl. Christian Reister, one of Alberta's two livestock officers.

The value of that cow grazing out in the field can range from $1,500 to $2,000 apiece, which makes them particularly attractive to thieves.

Reister, 45, looked right at home wearing a black cowboy hat, black coat, blue jeans and cowboy boots at a cattle auction in Strathmore, about 60 kilometres east of Calgary.

He said the number of missing cattle in Alberta rose from 575 in 2014 to 600 in 2015. Saskatchewan's numbers for last year aren't available but there was a sizeable jump from 600 in 2013 to 1,000 in 2014.

"Some of those stats in the increase in Saskatchewan can be attributed to producers paying a little closer attention to their assets and watching their numbers a little closer," said Reister.

The investigations are tough. Looking for a cattle rustler today isn't that much different than it was 50 years ago.

"I think there are a lot of producers who often have a few head taken and they don't know," Reister said. …

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