Walter Suntjens’ family has been farming their east-central Alberta ranch since 1927 without incident. But when Walter and his wife returned from a vacation to find 50 of their cattle missing, they turned to a special RCMP unit for help. This investigation requires both contemporary police tactics and old western know-how — a job fit only for the cattle cops.
Cattle rustling is one of those crimes that’s been around forever — since people began keeping cattle over 10,000 years ago. And it still happens today almost everywhere cattle are kept. Alberta’s RCMP Livestock Investigation detail is a tiny, two-person unit with one officer to cover the north of the province, from Red Deer to the Northwest Territories, and one officer to cover the south. It’s an enormous amount of territory to cover, so they work in tandem with the province’s livestock inspection agency, LIS, to solve livestock-related crimes.
Farm Crime Facts
- The province of Alberta is home to over five million cattle, which is more than there are people.
- The term “cattle rustling” is another way to describe the theft of cattle. In Australia, it’s known as “cattle duffing.”
- Cattle brand registration has been around for more than 125 years in Canada, with the first branding registration law being passed in 1878.
- Alberta leads Canada in beef cattle, with livestock sales in 2016 valued at a $7.4 billion.
- There are roughly 12,693 cattle farms in Alberta.