Ranchers see increase in grass thefts amid drought

Oct 3, 2012

Some ranchers have started cutting neighbors' fences or leaving gates open so their cattle can graze on greener pastures amid an extreme drought that has caused a spike in hay prices.

Ranchers from Missouri to Texas and west into New Mexico have sold off huge portions of their herds this year because the worst drought in decades dried up their pastures and they couldn't afford to buy food for their animals.

Now authorities in New Mexico and other drought-stricken states say they're seeing all sorts of attempts to steal grass and hay as ranchers struggle to feed the animals they have left. In one case in Colorado, $5,000 worth of hay was stolen from a field.

While grass thefts might seem relatively harmless, ranchers say they threaten their livelihoods.



According to the National Weather Service:

January through August 2012 has been dry with a statewide average of just 60 percent. This is the 5th driest first eight months of any year on record. The Northeastern Plains climate division was the driest area through August at just 49 percent of normal precipitation, while the Southwestern Mountains climate division was the least dry at 71 percent of normal precipitation.

To view more information about drought in New Mexico, including maps, visit: