Cattle missing from Baca County, Colo. |

Cattle missing from Baca County, Colo.

Steve McEndree runs cattle in the vast country of Baca County, Colorado, an hour from Kansas and an hour from Boise City, Okla. Doctoring calves in dust and wind has been the priority as of late and has consumed a great deal of his time. The pasture of bred cows had feed and water and the calves took priority.

McEndree began feeding bred cows at the beginning of the month, and he noticed not all of them were coming to feed. After a thorough check in the area and from the air, he confirmed that 80 black-hided bred cows were missing and were reported stolen.


The pasture where 180 cows were located is just across the road from a good set of corrals. McEndree said the cattle were cake broke and he guesses they were led or pushed across the road and loaded onto two semis in the early days of December.

“It’s a pretty good set of corrals so it would have been real easy to have done,” McEndree said. “That was right after we weaned and we were doctoring calves and it was taking all day to get that done.”

Blowing dirt and windy conditions destroyed any tracks that were left. McEndree said the cows would have made two heavy truckloads and that’s what he suspects happened. With even just three experienced people, he said they could have been loaded and back on the road in an hour. This is, however, frustrating to think people involved in the cattle business could be at the root of the theft.

Due to calve beginning on May 1, the cows bear either the S JM (connected) or the Lazy TC connected followed by a quarter circle on their left hip. Most of the cattle are wearing blue Y-Tex ear tags and are predominantly black.

Colorado’s Operation Livestock Thief program is offering an award up to $2,500 for information leading to the conviction of this criminal. All leads should be reported to the Baca County Sheriff’s office at (719) 523-6677. If you have any information regarding these cattle or have heard any information that could be helpful for this report, please contact the Baca County Sheriff’s office. 

The Colorado Brand Board has been notified and Brand Commissioner Chris Whitney has informed surrounding states of the missing livestock. The protocol for investigating reports of missing or stolen livestock depends upon quick reporting and a wide net of contacts within the industry in multiple states.


As 2022 comes to a close, the staff at the Colorado Brand Inspection Division of the Colorado Department of Agriculture are preparing year end reports of all reports of missing or stolen livestock in the state as well as preparing for the printing of the newest Colorado Brand Book.

Commissioner Chris Whitney said the numbers of missing and stolen stock reports vary in numbers, the protocol followed to assist producers is consistent. He said all missing or stolen livestock should be reported to brand inspectors immediately, as he said a cold trail is difficult to follow. He said he understands some producers may be hesitant to report missing or stolen animals, but he said fast reporting yields the most success, and if the cattle turn up, the report can be marked as resolved.

The Brand Office disseminates a Livestock Reported Missing or Stolen report monthly to all Brand Inspection Division personnel, Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, Colorado Livestock Association, county clerks, county sheriffs, the International Livestock Identification Association, the Livestock Marketing Association, and the Brand Board as well as making the report available to the public on their website. In cases of actual or suspected theft, brand inspectors and supervisors in surrounding states are also notified. As cattle are recovered, brand inspectors are notified to allow resources to be allocated elsewhere.

The Brand Inspection Division includes about 68 inspectors, supervisors, and staff serving the state’s 10 districts. In 2021, brand inspectors traveled over 1.1 million miles inspecting 4.6 million head of livestock and handled about 3,500 head of strays. The upcoming Colorado Brand Book will include the state’s 30,000-plus registered livestock brands.

More Like This, Tap A Topic