Cattle rustling may sound antiquated but it’s a problem that’s very real for modern day ranchers, particularly those in southeastern Oregon. The vast, sparsely populated landscape enables cattle thieves to evade detection as they move large animals long distances. Simply keeping track of cows can be a challenge. Branding is the traditional method, but brand designs are only recognized within the state. Electronic tracking with tags or microchips are another option, but ranchers have concerns about both.
The USDA is working with states to develop a program to trace cattle ownership in order to contain disease outbreaks. The first proposal for livestock tracking rolled out by the Obama Administration got a chilly reception from ranchers, who feared new federal rules would burden them with extra costs that could slow productivity.
Have you lived or worked on a ranch? Have you ever had livestock stolen from you? What is the best way to keep track of animals?
Click here for more on cattle rustling, including a slideshow from OPB News.
- Bob Skinner: Owner of Skinner Ranches and former president of the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association
- Don Hansen: State veterinarian
- Rodger Huffman: State brand inspector
- Julie Laird: Works on Laird Ranch and was the coordinator for the Northwest Pilot Project for Animal Identification and Tracking through USDA
- Kerry St. Syr: Executive director of the Canadian Cattle Identification Agency