Published October 1, 2000 | October 2000 issue
Cattle ranchers are losing their beef, and it's not being taken from meat lockers. Rustlers have been stalking and stealing cattle from open fields, leaving behind faded tire tracks and wounded pocketbooks.
In early summer, rustlers got away with $100,000 worth of cattle from the National Grasslands in the western part of the state. The increase in demand for beef and decrease in supply have raised prices and made rustling profitable. Prices are up 8 percent above last year and up almost 22 percent since 1996.
Despite reward offers, officials have not been successful in catching anyone red-handed. North Dakota officials believe a band of rustlers in the Badlands uses spotters with radios and motorcycles to circle the cows and load them onto semi-trucks in the darkness. Officials are reportedly using new strategies to combat thefts, such as DNA testing and placing computer chips in cows.