OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – As cattle rustling continues to be an issue in the state of Oklahoma, cattlemen are urging cattle producers to call state lawmakers and vote yes on an upcoming bill to help protect their property.
HB 2504 is a measure that would increase the legal consequences for anyone caught stealing cattle in the state of Oklahoma.
The two main pieces of the legislation include:
• Increasing the fine for theft by three times the value of the animal and machinery stolen but caps the maximum fine at $500,000.
• Each head of cattle stolen will constitute a separate offense (felony).
In 2015, Oklahoma lawmakers had legislation to increase penalties on calf theft with SB 299 and HB 1387. The release by the coalition of the AFR, Oklahoma Farm Bureau, Oklahoma Cattlemen and the Oklahoma Livestock Marketing Association stated several numbers to back up its case.
According to the Oklahoma Dept. of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, the number of cattle thefts investigations has steadily increased over time with eighty-seven investigations conducted in 2015. Investigations in 2013 totaled 64 cases. A total of approximately 1,600 head were reported stolen for the 2015 investigations."
The statement went on to say that “the average herd size for an Oklahoma family farm/ranch is approximately 28 head of cattle. Thieves seldom steal only one head as cattle are more easily managed in groups, yet even the loss of one head can be severely detrimental to family farmers and ranchers.”