The rustling of cattle and other livestock is a crime that few outside the agricultural industry may know about and can sound more like a remnant of a past age than a pressing problem.
Proposed legislation in the California State Assembly would make the problem, and its punishments, much more stark.
Though it can bring up romantic thoughts of Old West cowboys on wild cattle drives across the plains, livestock rustling for owners and ranchers is far less entertaining. In 2012, the Bureau of Livestock Identification reported 1,224 missing or stolen cattle at a loss of close to $1 million as livestock prices rise.
“I think that’s a low estimate too,” said Stevie Ipsen, communications director for the California Cattleman’s Association (CCA). “Because that’s just in live animals, not in future reproduction losses or anything else.”...