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North Dakota Chief Brand Inspector Blaine Northrop says that branding your cattle is one of the best ways to protect against theft. Photo by Linda Teahon

Bay and the North Dakota Chief Brand Inspector, Blaine Northrop offered some tips for protecting against cattle theft

1. Brand your cattle.

2. Pay close attention to your cattle - count whenever possible (Bay said ranchers already do a good job of this, but with cattle traveling sometimes 150 miles or more for summer pasture, neighbors are sometimes less familiar with the cattle they are bordering).

3. Don’t buy cattle without proper paperwork (When purchasing cattle privately, a bill of sale is required within 15 days of sale, whether or not the cattle are branded). Northrop suggests that if the cattle carry multiple brands, that a brand inspector be on sight to inspect the cattle for change of ownership at the time of sale.

4. Maintain good fences.

A Breien, North Dakota man is charged with stealing 12 head of cows.

Steven Weinberger of rural Morton County may have stolen the cows from several different people.

Several ranchers in the area reported pairs missing in 2017 and 2018, but the North Dakota investigators had no leads, until recently.

The investigation took off when a North Dakota rancher brought a cow to the Sidney Livestock Market Center, the Sidney, Montana, salebarn, where a brand inspector held the cow because the seller didn’t have paperwork to match the brand.

When the North Dakota investigators were alerted to the situation, they inspected 22 head of cows at the rancher’s place, that he had purchased from Weinberger over the past couple of years. The North Dakota Stockmen’s Association deputy brand inspector said the investigators found 12 that had been stolen, and did not carry Weinberger’s brand. While several cows and their brands matched the descriptions of those that neighbors had reported missing, none of the missing calves were found. There were up to seven individuals who had reported missing cattle.

And all of the cows reported missing have not been found, Bay said.

“For example, one rancher had reported 6 pair missing, and we found one cow with his brand. There are other similar situations.”

Bay said some of the cows could be gone, but the investigation continues to find more of them.

“A lot can happen in a year or two. They could have been sold to someone without that person knowing they were stolen, or they could have been taken to an area that doesn’t enforce brand inspection.

Weinberger has been charged with 7 felony counts of theft of property, and Bay said Weinberger has bonded out of jail.

Weinberger’s preliminary hearing is set for July 1.

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