Campbell County authorities on Friday told Cowboy State Daily that 70 yearling ewes were reported missing from a Campbell County ranch on July 10.
Sheriff Scott Matheny said deputies are investigating to determine if the sheep were stolen.
"We're not sure if they were stolen," Matheny said. "They could have just gotten loose. We have some possible leads on where they might be."
Guy Edwards, the rancher who owns the animals, believes they were stolen.
He said it was July 9 when he noticed the sheep were missing. He later found tire tracks in his pasture and other evidence suggesting the sheep were stolen. He believes the sheep, valued at about $21,000 are "long gone."
About 70 head is the amount that fits in a double-deck gooseneck trailer, Edwards said.
He believes the sheep have been transported to a neighboring state where they don't require brand inspection. South Dakota, Nebraska and Colorado are all states where livestock identification markings are not required.
Edwards told Cowboy State Daily that he has contacted livestock sale yards in Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska and Colorado to alert them about the missing sheep in case someone brings them in.
Edwards, who is also a brand inspector said South Dakota, Nebraska and Colorado don't require brand inspections and since sheep are branded with paint the wool can be clipped off essentially removing the identification. Ear tags can also be pulled out but should leave a visible hole where the tag was.
Some of the missing sheep had cropped ears meaning the tip of the ear was cut off. Most of the missing sheep are rambouillet crosses, have white faces, and a "GE" brand in red on their backs. with blue or yellow ear tags, Edwards said.
About 50 of the missing sheep are owned by Edwards and the other 20 are owned by his father. Those 20 have orange ear tags and are branded with blue paint circles farther back on their butts, Edwards said.
A neighbor told Edwards a pickup truck towing a trailer was seen in the area on July 6 at 11 p.m.
"We found tire tracks where they pushed them up against a fence and loaded them right below our shed," Edwards said. "They were out of sight and did it in the dark. It was Sunday when I realized we were about 70 head short."
Sheriff Matheny said there hasn't been any recent livestock theft in Campbell County. He encourages residents to report anything suspicious to his office at 307-682-7271.
"We haven't had anything recent but we have had it (livestock theft) in all counties in Wyoming," Matheny said. "It's surprising how often it happens. Sometimes when they come up missing ,they get found in a deep draw or in a neighbors pasture."
Doesn't Take Too Much Effort
Matheny added that it doesn't take much effort for someone with a good herding dog and a livestock trailer to "to scoop up a bunch of cattle or sheep."
"And once you get across the river (east of the Wyoming border) there's no such thing as brands," he said.
The pasture the sheep were in is about 2,000 acres and is bordered by other pastures where sheep are kept.