Craig Day, News On 6
MUSKOGEE COUNTY, Oklahoma -- Authorities are investigating a rash of cattle thefts in parts of Haskell and Muskogee Counties.
Ranchers say some of the stolen cattle have later been found hidden in pens, dehydrated and dead.
In a ranch in Muskogee County, mama cows are calling for their calves. Calves that are long gone. And rancher Melvin White has a pit in his stomach because of it.
"People don't have any morals anymore, they just running around not raised right," White said.
White had corralled a group of calves, so he could later move them to better grass. But sometime Wednesday evening, thieves made off with 22 of them.
"What you've worked for an entire year is gone in a matter of a few hours," he said.
Stealing cattle is stealing someone's livelihood. It's like you going to work every day, but someone else taking home your paycheck. And this isn't the only case in the area.
"This is their livelihood and they're killing us our here," said Rae Lea Spears, Muskogee County Deputy.
Over the past couple of weeks, thieves have stolen dozens of head of cattle in Muskogee, Wagoner and Okmulgee Counties.
Investigators most of the cattle are unbranded and some have ended up suffering and dying.
"The suspect has taken some of these cattle, put them in a pen, then gets spooked. And don't come back and the cattle die, no water or food or anything," Spears said.
Fourteen head were recovered after they desperately broke out of their fencing to get to water. But about three times that many are still missing.
For White, the theft means lost income, a lot of wasted effort if they aren't found, and that feeling of frustration that's hard to stomach.
"It hurts, it hurts. It hurts bad," he said.
Anyone with information that could help in the investigation is urged to call the Muskogee County deputy who is working on the case at 918-842-0072.
Also, the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers' Association has a toll free hotline, the Operation Cow Thief hotline at 1-888-830-2333.