Updated 2 years ago by Evan Weborg (Helena)
Cattle rustling has long been a staple of Western movies, but the illegal practice still occurs - even here in Montana.
The Montana Department of Livestock, assisted by the Nevada Department of Agriculture, recently recovered 34 stolen cows and 25 assorted yearlings and calves for a Montana livestock producer.
The adult cows, which were recovered in the high desert near the Nevada-California border, had been illegally imported into Nevada and rebranded, according to Ernie McCaffree, who supervises MDOL's district investigators in western Montana.
All of the adult cows were non-Official Calfhood Vaccinates (OCV), McCaffree said, and as such, were illegally imported into Nevada.
In accordance with Nevada law for non-vaccinates, all of the cows have been or will be sold at market and sent to slaughter, with proceeds going to the legal brand owners.
All 59 head were tested for brucellosis and tuberculosis before being sent to slaughter.
Charges in Nevada for illegal importation and branding are pending, according to Lt Blaine Northrop of the NV Department of Agriculture.
Christian Mackay of the MT Department of Livestock noted, "Everybody is used to a handshake deal, 99% of the time that goes well, (but) sometimes it doesn't. It can involve fraud, it can involve bank fraud, and then there is still the old fashioned stealing and rebranding, all of these things happen all the time."
During the past three years, the MT Department of Livestock has recovered 7,389 missing or stolen cattle worth more than $7.9 million for Montana livestock producers.