115 Sheep Reported Stolen From Northeast Wyoming Ranches

A pair of ranchers in the Wright, Wyoming, area reported 115 sheep have been stolen from them recently. Another rancher reported 70 yearling ewes stolen from the same region last summer.

Clair McFarland

April 10, 20243 min read

Sheep herd getty 4 9 24
(Getty Images)

Two Campbell County sheep herders reported more than 100 sheep stolen in recent days, leading the local sheriff’s office to investigate the theft claims.

A 67-year-old man called the Campbell County Sheriff’s office Monday to report that sometime between the start of the year and Monday afternoon, 40 sheep vanished from his herd on South Highway 59, at Wright, Wyoming, Undersheriff Quentin Reynolds told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday.

These 40 sheep represent a financial loss of $11,000, the owner told investigators.

“(He) believed the sheep to be stolen, but did not have any suspects in mind,” read Reynolds from the incident report. “He has not observed any signs of damaged fence or tracks from the vehicles.”

Four days earlier, another sheep rancher, a 69-year-old man, told authorities he was concerned 75 sheep had been taken from his ranch on Edwards Road in Wright.

These were last seen in late 2023, but the man said he believed someone stole them this year.

“(He) has seen no indication of how or what happened and has no suspects in mind,” Reynolds related from the incident report.

Those 75 sheep were branded on the center of their backs with a “7K” brand and their left ears were cropped, said Reynolds, adding that they had white faces.

Investigators have alerted the Wyoming state brand inspector of the reported thefts.

Reynolds said both incidents are under investigation.

‘Scoop Them Up’

A similar report emerged from Campbell County last July, when a rancher reported 70 yearling ewes missing from his ranch.

But that rancher, Guy Edwards, said he found tire tracks in his pasture and other evidence of theft.

It doesn’t take much effort for someone with a good herding dog and a livestock trailer to “scoop up a bunch of cattle or sheep,” Campbell County Sheriff Scott Matheny said at the time, adding that thieves may be able to avoid detection by getting the livestock out of Wyoming.

Home Free

Jim Magagna, executive vice president of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association and a longtime sheep rancher, said sheep thefts do happen in Wyoming, though they’re not necessarily on the rise.

And near Wright, the sheep tend to be more confined within fenced pastures, which makes them easier to keep track of, but which also means someone isn’t with them constantly.

“I have to think if someone wants to steel them, maybe it’s not that difficult,” he said.

In Magagna’s operations in Sweetwater and Sublette Counties, 15 or 20 sheep would go missing from time to time, but the pastures were so vast and open he could not discount the idea of predators taking them, he said.

He said the loss of 75 sheep complicates the prospect of theft: it would take multiple trips to load that many sheep into a gooseneck trailer.

South Dakota and Nebraska both require brands in the western portion of their states, but not the eastern portion, Magagna added.

“So with sheep or with cattle, if you can take a route where you don’t have a stop at a port of entry or something and load them up and get them halfway through South Dakota, you’re kind of home free,” he said.  

Clair McFarland can be reached at clair@cowboystatedaily.com.

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter