The persistent problem of cattle rustling has one Peace rancher wondering why the police aren’t taking incidents more seriously.
On September 6, three days after moose season opened, rancher Walt Hedges found the remains of one of his replacement heifers at the side of an oil road crossing one of his Crown land tenures. The 700-pound animal had been shot.
“We had found a calf that had been butchered on the side of the road,” Hedges says. “They did a very clean job – cut the head off and the front feet and gutted it. They just took the whole carcass. It was on a bit of a bank, so I think they just slid it into the back of a pickup and took it.”
Hedges ranches 50 miles north of Fort St. John. He called the RCMP and the BC Fish and Wildlife Branch, but both refused to get involved. Turning to his local representative with the BC Cattlemen’s Association, Hedges contacted Cpl. Cory Lepine of the RCMP livestock section in Kamloops.
Lepine was understanding but Hedges didn’t get a helpful reply. ‘There’s nothing we can do about it,” he was told, but followed up with the detachment in Fort St. John to make a file was opened.
Fort St. John RCMP called and apologized, took Hedges’ information and created a file for the stolen animal. But no other action was taken.
“I told them, ‘So I guess it’s up to us to police this kind of stuff ourselves,’ and they said oh no, no, don’t do that,” Hedges explains.
Hedges reached out to nearby processors, including 101 Meats, to let him know if anything suspicious came through their doors.
“This is unusual, but at the same time it’s not totally unusual,” Hedges says. “In our area there’s probably two or three taken every year.”
Moving forward, Hedges plans to be more vigilant, but the geography doesn’t lend itself to easy monitoring of his 240 cows plus replacement heifers.
“It’s hard to even do that because it’s a pretty remote area,” he says.