Cattle theft has become a problem that has risen to the level of attracting attention from the state's top officials.
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt and the Kansas Department of Agriculture announced a joint agreement to increase the state's efforts to combat cattle theft.
Schmidt's office has formed a new Livestock/Brand Investigation Unit within the office's consumer protection division and hired longtime Kansas lawman Kendal Lothman to lead the unit. Lothman has been a law enforcement officer for 22 years, including six years as Kiowa County sheriff.
"This agreement is a great example of finding efficient ways for government to better serve the people of Kansas," Schmidt said. "Combining the law enforcement authority of the attorney general's office with the livestock investigations authority of the Department of Agriculture allows us to better protect Kansas ranchers from cattle theft."
For decades, the state's leading cattlemen's organization, the Kansas Livestock Association, has offered a reward to individuals who provide information that leads to the arrest and conviction of persons committing crimes against KLA members that include stealing, killing or seriously injuring livestock, stealing livestock equipment, tack or pharmaceuticals, arson in the burning of hay.
The maximum award from KLA is $2,500. The reward amount is up to the discretion of the association's board of directors.
Dr. Bill Brown, Kansas Animal Health Commissioner, also welcomed the new collaborative effort at the state level.
"This is a good day for Kansans," Brown said. "Livestock are a valuable asset and it is important that we remain diligent and assist in any way possible to protect those investments. Having an investigator in the field will provide expertise to local law officials to help support our Brand Program."
Record cattle prices have led to increases in cattle thefts, as has been reported in several recent media stories. The new unit will respond to requests from local law enforcement agencies for help in investigations. Producers or others involved in the livestock industry who suspect thefts or improper cattle sales should contact their local sheriff or police department, which will request assistance if needed.
Each request will be reviewed by the respective segment executive committee (i.e. feeders, stockgrowers, dairy) and a recommendation presented to the board of directors at their next meeting.
A recipient should agree to cooperate in the publicity of the award payment by agreeing to have their photograph published in Kansas agriculture trade publications and/or participate in other media events.