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Cattle rustling: An Old West problem still plagues New Mexico ranchers

Author: Kristy

By Zack Ponce

(Photo by Zack Ponce – Current-Argus A cow is branded with the symbol for the 7 Lambs Ranch. Sharon Stanley-Moreno owns the ranch and uses cows, including this one, for a pet and livestock products business.) CARLSBAD >> Venture outside the city and vast tracts of dusty plains greet wondering adventurers around New Mexico, along with herds of cattle, whose only restriction upon complete freedom is a wobbly barbed-wire fence.

This is not the Eddy County of a century ago, but in terms of livestock crime, ranchers may as well be living in the Wild West. Technology has evolved and aided in the capture of criminals, but deterrence remains lacking.

“In some ways it’s the same as it probably was in the 1800s, but probably not on quite as big a scale now as it was back then because there are better ways of tracking stuff,” said Darrell Brown, the chairman of the New Mexico Beef Council who also does some ranching in Artesia.

Last week the Eddy County Sheriff’s Office reported that a man was seen skinning a calf on the side of Rocking R Red Road near Armstrong Road in Hope, southwest of Artesia. The man gutted it and took the calf before police arrived on scene.

The Eddy County cattle growers are now offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of the cattle rustler, double the amount of the original $500 reward posted immediately following the event.

The incident was a stark reminder that cattle theft, commonly known as “cattle rustling,” remains part of everyday life, even in the 21st century. READ MORE

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