Cattle rustling rebounding in Alberta and Saskatchewan

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.

See Full Article

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.

"It's some of the most difficult investigations that we do. We look for tire impressions, we look for footwear impressions, we look for gateways that are cut so at this stage in 2016 really our investigations haven't changed any."

Reister said if cattle are stolen police usually don't need to go much further than local cowhands or neighbours.

"They're inside jobs primarily - employees - some of them are neighbours. In some cases they just live close to the individuals but in all cases they are people who do have knowledge of handling cattle," he said.

"It would be pretty intimidating for someone from the city that's never had an experience handling cattle to carry out that type of theft."

Making investigations even harder is the fact only about half of producers now burn their individual brands onto the sides of the cattle. It used to be an industry norm but without it rustlers have an easier time getting away with the crime.

Gary Guichon of Livestock Investigation Services, a private company contracted by the Alberta government to do cattle inspections, says cattle without brands automatically raise suspicions.

"Most livestock inspectors have local knowledge so in most cases they will have an idea of the guy bringing the cattle in," said Guichon, who has been inspecting brands for 34 years.

"If it's someone you don't know you're probably gonna have a closer look at the cattle and look at the brands and any other identifiers that may help you out."


Latest Canada & World News

  • Iraq government investigating airstrike on mosque that left 13 dead

    World News CBC News
    Iraqi forces shelled Islamic State positions outside Mosul on Monday as fighting to retake the extremist-held city entered its second week and a rights group urged a probe into a suspected airstrike that hit a mosque, killing over a dozen civilians. Source
  • Walmart food waste caught on camera: 'They just toss it freely,' says former worker

    Canada News CBC News
    A former worker at almost a dozen Walmart stores in the Vancouver area is speaking out about what he calls "disturbing" food waste at the big retailer. Daniel Schoeler says on every shift at almost every store, he saw loads of what appeared to be perfectly good food dumped in the trash, even though Walmart say it only discards inedible food. Source
  • Wallonia's veto in trade deal about everything but Canada: Don Pittis

    Canada News CBC News
    Everyone calls it the Canada-EU trade deal, but in almost every way, European opposition to CETA really isn't about Canada at all. Understanding the motivation — and the disproportionate clout — of Belgium's French-speaking region that stands in the way of the deal requires some understanding of the strange politics of a country more divided along linguistic lines than Canada. Source
  • You're never going to retire — and here's why

    Canada News CBC News
    You're never going to retire. At least not in the way we have come to perceive retirement. For a while there, we had a pattern. You went to school, you worked and then you retired for a handful of years before your eternal demise. Source
  • Tom Hayden, Chicago 8 anti-war activist and later a politician, dead at 76

    World News CBC News
    Famed '60s anti-war activist Tom Hayden, whose name became forever linked with the celebrated Chicago 8 trial, Vietnam War protests and his ex-wife actress Jane Fonda, has died. He was 76. He died on Sunday after a long illness, said his wife, Barbara Williams. Source
  • Tom Hayden, famed 1960s anti-war activist, dies at 76

    World News CTV News
    SANTA MONICA, Calif. -- Tom Hayden, the famed 1960s anti-war activist who moved beyond his notoriety as a Chicago 8 defendant to become a California legislator, author and lecturer, has died. He was 76. His wife, Barbara Williams, says Hayden died on Sunday in Santa Monica after a long illness. Source
  • Limited gains in first week of Iraq's Mosul offensive

    World News CTV News
    KHAZER, Iraq -- In the week since Iraq launched an operation to retake Mosul from the Islamic State group, its forces have pushed toward the city from the north, east and south, battling the militants in a belt of mostly uninhabited towns and villages. Source
  • Philippines' Duterte sparking distress around the world: U.S.

    World News CTV News
    MANILA, Philippines - The top American diplomat in Asia says Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's controversial remarks and a "real climate of uncertainty" about his government's intentions have sparked distress in the U.S. and other countries. Source
  • Dennis Oland expected to learn his fate from N.B. Court of Appeal

    Canada News CTV News
    FREDERICTON -- New Brunswick's Court of Appeal is expected to decide today whether Dennis Oland will continue to serve a life sentence for the murder of his father, win acquittal, or face another trial. Defence and Crown lawyers presented their arguments before three justices of the court last week, focused mostly on Oland's incorrect statement to police that he was wearing a navy blazer on the evening his father was murdered. Source
  • Police hunting for 230 escaped drug addicts in Vietnam

    World News Toronto Sun
    HANOI, Vietnam — Vietnamese authorities were searching Monday for 230 drug addicts are still at large after a mass escape from a rehabilitation centre in southern Vietnam. Ho Van Loc, deputy director of labour department in Dong Nai province, said the breakout on Sunday night was started by two inmates and eventually 562 inmates, including 58 women, escaped. Source