When it comes to missing livestock in Dodge City, most animals are stray, not stolen.
According to Ford County Sheriff Dean Bush, an average of one report of stray livestock comes in each day. This greatly outnumbers reports that wind up indicating acts of theft.
“We actually have had very little livestock reported as stolen,” Bush said. “We deal more with stray livestock than we deal with stolen.”
One important precaution farmers can use to prevent lost or stray animals is branding. Identification is helpful to the Sheriff’s Office, though ear tags tend to be less reliable than branding.
“Just having some kind of identification on the animal is very helpful to us,” Bush said.
It is also essential for those who live in the country to remain vigilant, checking their livestock frequently. While some count there livestock every few weeks or months, counting animals frequently improves the likelihood of finding a stray. A daily animal count is recommended, so that if one goes missing the Sheriff’s Office has the opportunity to act quickly.
In 2012, the Sheriff’s Office handled 365 cattle calls, most having to do with stray cattle. Bush reports, however, that horses have proven more of a problem than cattle.
“It’s the horses we struggle with more than the cows,” Bush said.
Overall, Dodge City residents can take precautions to prevent stray animals through identification methods and remaining vigilant in keeping watch over their livestock.