KFRM General Manager Kyle Bauer presents the check to rancher Gregg Stewart. “Much of the cattle industry harvests roughage over large secluded geographies where cattle graze with little supervision from farmers and ranchers. This environment creates a great place for the predator that has plagued the cattle industry for centuries – the cattle thief,” Kyle said. “After a lifetime of listening to cattlemen complain about missing cattle, and experiencing some of it himself, Kyle decided to help the situation. KFRM covers 120,000 square miles in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska with a fulltime farm talk format. For cattle to be stolen, they are generally captured, transported, and sold. “With more than 8 million cattle moving annually throughout the KFRM listening area, there are a lot of eyes and ears out there. The owners of KFRM decided to offer a $5,000 reward to open some of those eyes and ears.
Cattle thieves rely on most of us assuming everyone is honest, and they depend on people to not be suspicious.” Kyle added, “It is our intent to encourage people to be suspicious and ask questions by offering the reward. We want thieves to be worried about getting caught.” Even though KFRM does not cover all of Kansas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska, they will pay the reward for information that leads to arrests and convictions anywhere in those three states. “Many times, cattle thieves will transport cattle to an area that is not near where the cattle were stolen. We need people to be watching everywhere,” Kyle said. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt formed a Livestock/Brand Investigation Unit. “It is very difficult to get convictions. Local law enforcement makes the arrests, but with the help of the specialist, they are more likely to get a conviction. It takes many entities doing everything correctly,” Kyle explained. On November 25, 2015, one of Gregg Stewart’s employees was checking cattle late in the day on a ranch that was located about two hours from the headquarters when he discovered cattle caught in the catch pen. After inquiring with Gregg, he turned the cattle out, but it really bothered Gregg. He drove two hours and arrived after midnight on Thanksgiving morning for a “stake out.” He had contacted the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department about his plan. Soon after he arrived, a vehicle pulling a stock trailer came down the dirt road, discovered the cattle turned out, and took off down the road with Gregg in pursuit and on the phone to the sheriff. After a high-speed chase on dirt roads, the sheriff cut off the fleeing thief and made the arrest. On September 6, 2016, Keith Buttenhoff was convicted of six counts of cattle theft from cattle he had stolen three weeks prior from the same pasture. On December 6, 2016, Kyle Bauer presented Gregg Stewart with their first $5000 reward. “Stewart had gotten all the cattle back from the people who had bought them, and the sale barn insurance had paid most of that cost, but many of those cooperators had expenses that were not reimbursed. It is Stewart’s plan to try to make everyone whole with the reward money,” Kyle said. KFRM has a set of rules for applying for the reward, which you can see at www.kfrm.com.