By Megan Mattice
BELLEVILLE –Cattle-rustling has proved to be a thing of the past in Hastings County, after a local farmer had his five missing cows returned safely.
Manuel Cabral says the fear he felt last Saturday, when he thought five members of his Black Angus cattle herd had gone missing, was enough to bring him to his knees.
Cabral had been puttering around his farm, on Highway 37 about 20 kilometres north of Belleville, like any other day of the week, when his girlfriend sudden realized that their cattle herd looked smaller than normal.
“We were five short, to be exact,” said Cabral.
As soon as he and his family confirmed the animals were, in fact, missing, they notified police immediately.
“I had no idea how someone could have pulled [kidnapping the cows] off. Frankly, I didn’t care,” said Cabral. “I just wanted them back. That’s my livestock. It’s how I make my living. It would have been a huge loss.”
Extra emphasis on “would have been.”
Cabral and company were able to locate the five missing Angus beef cows within a period of a little over 24 hours. They were closer than expected.
“Somehow they ended up in my neighbour’s barn,” he said.
In the far southern corner of the farm’s back grazing pasture is a weak fence that has needed extra support for the past couple of months. Cabral said the curious creatures must have slipped out through the weak part and wandered into the next pasture, eventually leading them into the neigbouring barn.
The footprints left by the five cows had disappeared due to activity by local snowmobilers, making it difficult for Cabral to track them.
“We searched those fields for hours, but checking the barn never crossed my mind,” he said.
Cabral, who only moved to this area two years ago, said the possibility of cattle-rustling was worrisome.
“You hear the old wives’ tales, but you never think it’s possible in this day and age,” he said.
Another area farmer to whom QNet News spoke said that there have been no cases of cattle-rustling in the area for the past 30 years.