With beef prices at record highs, some cattle rustlers are wreaking havoc on Canadian cattle ranches.
Police and cattle ranch owners in the North Okanagan region of British Columbia are reporting that criminals have been shooting roaming cattle and butchering them right in the field to take out prime cuts of meat, reports CBC News.
Last Tuesday, rancher Jeremy Wasylyszyn said that someone shot a cow and her calf along a logging road then left the carcasses to rot after cutting out prime tenderloin sections from the bovines.
"Her and her calf were standing there alive as ever," Wasylyszyn told CBC News. "We'd come back about two and a half, three hours later to find her and her calf shot and the tenderloin taken out of the back of the cow and the calf."
Wasylyszyn believes that the thieves were likely after more meat.
"Two strips of meat on either side of the spine. They've cut them out of the cow and the calf … I think they totally had intentions of taking more, but I don't think they realized how much traffic was on the road."
He is offering a $10,000 (USD $7,600) reward for any information about the butchering thieves that leads to an arrest and conviction. But Wasylyszyn isn’t the only rancher in the area whose experienced the gruesome crime.
Earlier this fall, three cattle were found on Coldstream Ranch property in the North Okanaga region with their hindquarters completely removed.
RCMP Corporal Trevor Tribes told CBC that at least six cattle have been killed in the Lavington, Lumby and Cherryville area in recent months.
"Our estimate is we're in excess of $20,000 [USD $15,000] as far as a loss to the area ranchers so far,” said Tribes.
Stealing whole cattle is nothing new for ranchers throughout Western Canada and the U.S. In 2012, The Western Stock Growers' Association in Canada increased the reward for catching cow thieves 5,000 percent in 2012 due to the number of cattle stolen each year-- around 6,000 in the prairies alone.
In 2014, Texas ranchers reported 5,800 cows were stolen, a five year high, costing farms $4.3 million. The Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association employs a team of 30 Special Rangers that investigate cattle thefts across the state and neighboring Oklahoma. Larry Gray, executive director of law enforcement for the organization, says that when commodity prices rise, incidents of theft related to that good also increase.