Colorado authorities are searching for 80 head of cattle that went missing from Baca County, Colorado, in early December — totaling roughly two tractor-trailer loads and worth about $100,000.
The missing cattle belong to 65-year-old Steve McEndree, a fourth-generation rancher. McKendree raises cattle on an 18,000-acre ranch 30 miles northwest of Springfield. A Facebook post made by the Colorado rancher has been circulating heavily in various regional agricultural and missing animals groups.
According to KRDO, a Colorado Springs-based TV station, McKendree waited to report his cattle absent until he’d verified they had not wandered onto neighboring properties, even hiring an airplane to search for the missing portion of his herd.
“It’s going to tighten our belts a little bit. We’ll have to cut some stuff out, put retirement out a few years, maybe, four to five,” McEndree told KRDO.
Their location near corrals on their property may have made them an easy target as well as a full moon followed by wind that would have covered any would-be thieves tracks.
The cattle are primarily black, spring-bred females with predominantly blue Y-tex tags and the brand SJM connected or the Lazy TC connected followed by a quarter circle. McEndree has said that he didn’t have insurance on the animals.
Colorado’s Operation Livestock Thief program is now offering an award of up to $2,500 for information leading to the conviction of the cattle thieves. An additional $2,000 is being offered by the Bent Prowers Cattle and Horse Growers’ Association.
Surrounding states have been informed of the theft. All leads should be reported to the Baca County Sheriff’s Office.
In a comment on social media, McEndree doled out a public admonishment to the unnamed person who gave an apparent false or misleading tip in the case.
“You not only hurt the people who you reported, but you hurt my family!!! This is our life and not a game for you to cause hurt and pain for others!!!,” he said in the comment.
Per Colorado Law, anyone caught in the act of cattle rustling will receive up to a Class 4 felony charge.