Living and working on a ranch in West Texas, my husband and I are no strangers to the call about cattle out on the highway. Inevitably, it’s at the worst possible time. Much like your pet getting sick on a Friday evening just as the vet’s office is closing, it never fails those calls come just as you’ve laid your head down to go to bed after a particularly long day. But that is the nature of the game, and we are always grateful to receive the alert.
Unfortunately, though, sometimes we frantically rush out the door for no reason because they aren’t ours. It’s the neighborly thing to do, so we help gather them up, but we often end up leaving a frustrated deputy still unsure who to call. It was incidences like this that led Sheriff Daniel Bueno of Jim Wells County to create the Jim Wells County Loose Livestock and Theft Prevention Program.
To participate, producers fill out a questionnaire identifying the ranch’s name, location of the property, type of livestock, brand and most importantly, contact numbers. This information is put into a database accessible to law enforcement with a unique identification number.
The number is present on metal gate signs landowners place on every gate they choose. If there is an emergent situation, the deputy can drive down the fence line until a gate with the sign is located. Using that number, they will look up the information and more easily contact the appropriate person. The program is free of charge.
Since 2017, this partnership between the sheriff’s office and ranchers has proven so successful other counties are now taking notice. In fact, Bueno has been invited to speak in 15 different counties across South Texas and at the State Sheriff’s Conference to address every sheriff in the state.
“That’s how good of a program it is,” says Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association Special Ranger Steve Martin.
“It was amazing how this program really took off and how many people participated,” Bueno adds.
Learn more about this first-of-its-kind program helping foster a strong relationship between ranchers and law enforcement to not only keep stray livestock off the highway, but also to recover stolen property and alert landowners of emergent situations in the July issue of The Cattleman.
Kayla Jennings is regular contributor to The Cattleman magazine.