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For Immediate Release

August 21, 2014
Steve Merritt
Public Information Officer
Montana Department of Livestock

Where’s the Beef? DOL’s Brands Enforcement Division Can Find It!

The Montana Department of Livestock’s Brands Enforcement Division recovered and returned 4,630 head of lost, stolen and strayed livestock, worth $6.4 million, to their rightful owners in 2013.

That’s a return to producers of nearly $2 for every dollar the division spends, said Christian Mackay, executive officer for the Montana Board of Livestock.

“Helping resolve ownership issues is one of our core responsibilities, and we’ve been at it a long time,” Mackay said.

Over the past 10 years, the department – the state’s oldest law enforcement agency – has recovered and returned to producers 39,897 head of lost, stolen and strayed livestock, worth a total of $44 million .

The current year budget for the Brands Division is just $3.3 million, Mackay said, with about half coming from per capita fees (49 percent) and half from inspection fees (51 percent). Roughly half of the division’s 57 employees are in Helena with the rest serving in the field and/or at livestock markets around the state.

Also playing an important role in recovering and returning lost, stolen and strayed livestock are the state’s network of 500-plus local brand inspectors. On any given year, more than half of the livestock lost, stolen or strayed are cleared up “in the country” by these volunteer inspectors.

“It’s really a testament to our people in the field, and to the system we have in place,” Mackay said.