WOODS COUNTY, Okla. – Special rangers with the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association are on the hunt for cattle rustlers up in Woods County.
Authorities say they’ve hit several ranches over the past several months and even got away with 41 head of steer from one operation.
All of the cattle were reported missing somewhere between May and August when they were set out to pasture.
Bouziden Brothers and Sons reported 41 head of yearling steers missing from their property, located in the Waynoka area of Woods County.
The steers are all branded with “U” on their right hip.
They also had purple custom ear tags with “Lackley Ranch” printed on them and blue Bayer fly tags in their left ears.
L&D Land and Cattle reported eight cow/calf pairs and two calves missing.
They were black cows with “MD” brands on their right hip.
And Randy Dietz in Woods County reported nine head of black unbranded steers missing.
There have also been other thefts in the area that may be related.
Brett Wellden, with the TSCRA, believes the motivation is meth and he says the crime could get worse.
“The layoffs in the oil field, a lot of those guys are going to be hurting for money and a lot of those guys haven’t had the most sparkling past and they have the ability and skill to go out and steal cattle at night,” said Wellden.
Wes Sander is a rancher in Woodward.
“It’s a huge hit. It’s terrible, I mean that’s their livelihood,” said Sander.
Sander says he does all he can to protect his cattle.
“Keep the cattle branded. We keep the fences in good shape and we check them, try to check them daily,” said Sander.
And he says the cattle business is tough enough without dealing with thieves.
“The input cost is huge on these things and the expenses are huge. The margin’s very narrow and when something, like that happens like you’re talking about in Woods County, it just takes all the profit away,” said Sander.
Officials believe the recent thefts are all the work of the same operation.
“There are very few people who know where to take it, you know, how to do it, have the equipment and means to do it. The circle is small,” said Wellden.
A $2,000 reward is being offered for anyone with information leading to an arrest and you can remain anonymous.
You can contact TSCRA’s Operation Cow Thief Hotline at 888-830-2333, or call Special Ranger Wellden at 405-586-9145.