“Where’s the beef?!” isn’t just a catchy phrase from a famously beloved fast-food commercial – it’s a very real question that cattle producers and livestock investigators alike frequently ask.  

Across Canada’s prairie provinces cattle rustling is on the rise. This is partially due to fewer farmers and families in rural Saskatchewan being around to witness something odd going on.

Cattle are a pricey commodity, with a single cow fetching between $150 to $200 per hundred pounds of meat. When a full-grown cow ready for slaughter weighs around 1,500 to 2,500 pounds, you’re talking about a $1,500-$2,500 target.

But never fear, RCMP Members are in the saddle and on the case.

A Specialized Investigation Needs Specialized Officers

While you may be more familiar with Emergency Response Teams or Police Service Dogs, the RCMP also has highly specialized livestock investigators as just one of 150 specialized services and career paths the RCMP offers.

Saskatchewan RCMP Livestock Investigator Cpl. Owen Third (left) alongside NPF Prairie Region Board Director, Morgan Buckingham (right), at SARM conference in March 2023.

These experts are responsible for investigating livestock related crimes like cattle rustling and educating producers on how to deter thefts. Investigations are complex and can lead across multiple provinces as rustlers transport their stolen livestock to another area for sale.

Theft can be prevented, and recovery can be easier if producers take certain steps to assist police. One of the best recommendations from our Members is to always ensure your cattle are branded. Cattle without any identification are nearly impossible to recover since it’s impossible to determine ownership.

Protecting Property on the Prairies

RCMP Members are experts at prairie policing and the unique challenges associated with keeping vast remote regions safe.

Recently, Livestock Investigation teams from Saskatchewan and Alberta successfully recovered 10 head of cattle – valued at over $25,000 – which were reported missing from a herd in Thorhild, Alberta and taken to a pasture near Martensville, Saskatchewan.

RCMP Livestock Investigators were tipped off by a rancher who notified police that many of his cattle had been stolen. Just like an investigation for an assault or murder, Livestock Investigators interviewed the rancher, witnesses, and reviewed different types of evidence. Based on this preliminary investigation, they determined the cattle were likely headed to Martensville for sale.

Livestock Investigators, general duty Members from the Martensville detachment, and members of Livestock Services of Saskatchewan executed a search warrant at a property where cattle matching the description and brand of those stolen were rumored to be held.

One of 10 head of cattle recovered by Cpl. Third and partners.

Due to the brands on the cattle, the investigators determined the stolen cattle were indeed at that property, and arrested the suspected thief.

Despite this success, an RCMP Livestock Investigator’s work is never done. Even in this specific case, another 20 head of cattle are still missing, and our Members are working to track them down.

These specialized police officers are filling a vital role in beefing up public safety and protecting property on the Prairies. For that, and so much more, we thank them.