A statewide roadblock system meant to detect livestock thefts Saturday may not have rustled up any cattle thieves, but industry officials say it sent a message that Utah is "beefing up" enforcement efforts.
"Utah's largest agricultural industry is under siege from an age-old crime - cattle rustling," said Gov. Norm Bangerter at a Saturday evening press conference."As governor, I want to send a clear message that cattle rustling will not be tolerated in Utah, and I will do all I can to support the efforts that have been undertaken."
Bangerter, clad in a plaid shirt, jeans and cowboy boots, spoke at a press conference on the east lawn of the Governor's Mansion. Earlier Saturday, the governor visited roadblock sites.
Michael Sibbett, vice-president of the Utah Cattlemen's Association, said cattle rustling costs Utah's beef industry $1.4 million dollars annually. However, with beef prices now at an eight-year high, theft could rob the industry of as much as $4 million this year.
The state's inventory of cattle is valued at $400 million and generates more than $1.3 billion to Utah's economy annually.
The association was formed in the 1870s to combat cattle rustling.
Gary Rose, president of the association, said the governor's support underlines an increased statewide effort to combat cattle theft by his group, the Utah Highway Patrol, Department of Agriculture and county sheriffs.