Thursday, October 27, 2016

Livestock Brand Laws, Rustling, and Modern Brand Inspection [otd 10/27]

On October 27, 1883, the Owyhee Avalanche said, “In as much as it is currently reported around the county, that there are horse, cattle and other thieves infesting our borders, we would recommend to the various horse and cattle men in this territory as well as the states of Oregon and Nevada, the propriety of having their brands and ear-marks advertised.

"It will aid the owners of horses and cattle in finding their animals, and have a tendency to discourage people from driving horses and cattle away that do not belong to them, for the reason, that the property will be known by all stock men. If the owner should belong to the Idaho Stock Growers' Association the stock would be taken from the thieves, and they prosecuted.”

Barbed triangle, Dan Murphy;
Diamond, Wilkins Company;
Spade, Arthur Pence.
Valley of Tall Grass.
Two years later, stockmen acknowledged the widespread nature of the problem by organizing an association for the entire Territory [blog, Apr 10]. This item appeared in the Shoshone Journal and was reprinted in the Avalanche: “The first annual meeting of the Idaho Cattle Growers’ Association will be held at Shoshone … and members of all associations of stock growers in Idaho are cordially invited to be present. All stockmen desiring to become members are requested to be present or send their names to the secretary, or hand them to any member of the executive committee.

"A record is being made of horse and cattle brands in every district in the territory, and a full and complete brand book will be issued. It is important that every stock grower should file his brand at once with the association.”

Three years after that, the Avalanche reprinted an article from the Cassia County Times: “Now that the rodeos are about at hand we would request every stock man in the county to furnish Mr. F. C. Ramsey, stock inspector for this county, with a list of their marks and brands. Outside parties have had a habit of claiming everything on the range unclaimed by parties present at the rodeo, and if Mr. Ramsey has your marks and brands he will probably save a large number from being driven away.”

As attested by other posts, stock theft – generally cattle or horses – was an on-going concern during Idaho’s pioneer period. As just one example, the Idaho Statesman gleaned (November 1, 1889) information about “Cattle Stealing” from the Idaho County Free Press in Grangeville. The item provided some details and concluded, “Cattle and horse thieves are becoming bold in some sections of our Territory, as reports which reach us would indicate.”

And, as noted before, the problem continues to this day [blog, May 24]. Today, brand inspection is the responsibility of the Idaho State Police, and covers cattle, horses, mules, and asses. Individuals must involve a Brand Inspector whenever stock ownership changes hands, animals are leaving the state, or animals are going to slaughter.

The Idaho Brand Inspector web page says, “Not obtaining a brand inspection when required by the Idaho brand laws is considered an infraction for the first offense and a misdemeanor for the second offense, punishable by a fine not to exceed $300 and or six months in jail.”
References: Adelaide Hawes, Valley of Tall Grass, Caxton Printers, Caldwell, Idaho (1950).
“Cattle Growers’ Association,” Owyhee Avalanche, Silver City, Idaho (March 28, 1885).
“Stockmen Should Supply Brand Lists,” Owyhee Avalanche,  Silver City, Idaho (June 2, 1888).

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