Double Standard: Cattle Rustlers and Wolves

It seems cattle rustling is a problem in the Great Basin, where three states converge (Oregon, Nevada and Idaho)  Cattle are being stolen but ranchers have been reluctant to point fingers.  Hmmmm. That seems odd.  When wolves are accused of killing livestock, Wildlife Services is called in to remove so called “depredating wolves” quicker then you can say holy cow…BUT when ranchers lose cows to theft…mums the word?

“Out of pride and a reluctance to point a finger at neighbors, ranchers in the vast Great Basin outback where Oregon, Idaho and Nevada come together have been slow to admit that someone in their midst, perhaps even someone they know from barbecues and brandings, has been stealing cattle. Just who is doing it, and how they have gotten away with it for at least three years, remains a mystery.”

It wasn’t until last summer that ranchers overcame their reluctance to talk to the law and each other about the problem.  It was discovered that 1200 cattle have disappeared, who can’t be accounted for from natural mortality.  

Ranchers don’t seem to have a problem reporting wolves for cattle losses.  I guess there’s a double standard going on here.

“Ranchers are keeping closer watch on their cattle, even with hidden cameras, and taking counts every time a herd moves through a gate, so they can report a theft sooner.”

So ranchers will take steps to keep a closer eye on their cattle when rustlers are involved and spend the money needed to protect their investment.  Interesting isn’t it?

And they admit turning their cows loose on the wide open range, unsupervised.  What a surprise.

“Bred cows are turned loose on rangeland far from home and left on their own for months at a time. The only good count of what the weather, predators, disease, poisonous weeds and now rustlers have left comes at the fall gather.”

“Jordan Valley ranchers Rand and Jane Collins swim their cows across the Owyhee River to get them to their federal allotment in February, and don’t see them again until June or July, when they brand the new calves.”

So let me get this straight.  Rustlers are stealing cattle on large open ranges, where cattle are left unsupervised but it wasn’t until recently that ranchers were willing to admit to the problem?  Yet there is no reluctance to report suspected wolf predation?

“It’s not the kind of thing you like to admit,” Rand Collins said. “There’s always the chance as the season goes along that the cattle will turn up, and then you look like a fool for crying wolf.”

Crying wolf seems to be what many ranchers can’t stop doing.


Rustlers ride wideopen range of Great BasinRustlers ride wideopen range of Great Basin

Rustlers take advantage of vast empty Great Basin country to plague cattle ranchers,0,3642978.story

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Posted in: gray wolf/canis lupus, public land degredation by livestock

Tags: cattle rustling, wolves or livestock

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