The possible theft of bison in Sundre is worrying for one Red Deer County rancher.
It would be difficult for someone to walk onto a ranch and take bison, said Yvonne Mills, of YR Bison Ranch, located just east of Red Deer.
“It’s not that easy to load up bison,” she said. “They’re not going to walk up on a trailer like a horse would, right?”
In January, a Sundre-area rancher told RCMP he was missing several bison – the owner’s herd was accounted for in October 2018, but now had four bison missing.
With assistance from the RCMP livestock investigator, aerial reconnaissance was conducted over the property, and it appeared the fence surrounding the bison’s pasture was damaged or tampered with.
Police only released this information to the public Wednesday.
It’s uncertain whether the animals, which are aged between eight and 20 years, were taken by predators, wandered off or were stolen, RCMP said.
Mills said the larger the land, the tougher it can be to locate missing livestock.
“I understand how it could happen in some areas, where people have thousands of acres, but for somewhere like Sundre, I would think they just have a few hundred acres. So that’s quite alarming,” she said.
Police say bison are known to be herd animals and it’s uncommon for several to go astray.
Mills said she suspects the bison were taken by cougars, given the ranch’s location.
But “I know bison have been stolen before. I’m well aware that it is possible for someone to steal them, or just let them loose,” she said.
The main things a rancher can do to protect livestock is place cameras around the property and make sure the fence is locked and secure, she said.
“Lots of people have security cameras, wildlife cameras. You can go back and look at them if something happens.”
The financial impact of losing a bison would depend on the size of the ranch, she added.
“If you have 40 bison and you lost four, then that’s a pretty big hit.”
None of the missing bison have been located.