- Associated Press - Friday, July 17, 2015

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (AP) - A Fremont County rancher who lost 19 calves is offering $10,000 for information that could lead to a prosecution.

Ron Wilcox’s calves vanished from a pasture in the Sand Creek area between May 12 and June 26, the Post Register reports (https://bit.ly/1HDzvnh), citing a Fremont County Sheriff’s Office news release. The missing calves were among the 65 cow-calf pairs in Wilcox’s pasture.

It’s possible that the cattle were stolen based on the sheer number that have gone missing, said Luke Davis, the Idaho State Police’s deputy brand inspector. He hasn’t found any evidence indicating that the calves were snatched by predators, succumbed to disease or wandered away.

Wilxcox and Davis combed the rancher’s 500-acre pasture, but they failed to find traces of footprints or carcasses.

As beef prices increase, cattle become attractive targets for rustlers. The missing calves could be worth at least $1,000 each, Davis said.

“The market gets high and adds value to a product. Then the criminal element takes advantage,” he said.

Davis added it’s not unusual for one or two cows to go missing in a year, and rarely does he find that the animals were stolen. Davis works with cattle brand inspectors to make sure cattle ownership is properly documented.

The missing calves were branded with “WZ” on their right side. They are either all black, or black with white faces.

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Information from: Post Register, https://www.postregister.com

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