Vandalism leading cause of cows running amok in the West Valley

It’s a problem Arizona ranchers wish they didn’t have to deal with, vandals cutting into their fences surrounding pens and pastures holding their cattle.
Published: Sep. 18, 2023 at 5:24 PM MST
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WADDELL, ARIZ. (3TV/CBS 5) - It’s a problem Arizona ranchers wish they didn’t have to deal with, vandals cutting into their fences surrounding pens and pastures holding their cattle.

Selwyn Justice moves cattle around his ranch in Waddell every day. But a few months ago, the herd went on the move overnight without him after someone cut up a fence to one of his pastures. “We probably had about 20 head of cattle that got out there,” said Justice, who owns the Justice Brothers Ranch. “They went out into the street and ran around. It wasn’t the first time we had that happen but by far the most recent.”

Thankfully, Justice and his ranchers were able to round up all the cattle that escaped and bring them back to the ranch. But one steer did suffer a head injury when he got hit by the side mirror of someone’s car.

Cows on the loose is an annoying and potentially dangerous problem that keeps popping up in the West Valley.

Last year, the Buckeye Police Department posted a video of some cows wandering through a neighborhood.

Buckeye police have stepped up patrols around the Sun City Festival area near Sun Valley Parkway after responding to multiple calls of suspects cutting fencing. As a result of the criminal damage, cattle are getting loose and wandering into roadways and neighborhoods creating a hazard for drivers and damaging property. This home surveillance footage was captured early Monday morning. If you see suspicious activity, please call our tip line at 623-349-6411.

Posted by Buckeye AZ Police Department on Thursday, August 11, 2022

The fear for police is a herd of cattle getting out on a busy street, which can cause a serious accident.

John O’Halloran with the city of Buckeye says one of the biggest problem areas is near the Sun City Festival Community, where off-road enthusiasts look for access to the White Tank Mountains. “A lot of people don’t realize that there are cattle in the area that can actually escape,” said O’Halloran. “They just see the fence as kind of a hindrance for them to get where they need to be, so they cut it, and the result of that is cattle getting out.”

What’s being done to fix it?

City leaders in Buckeye and Surprise are now working with Maricopa County and state land officials to figure out ways to improve keeping cows where they belong and discourage people from cutting up fences that let them loose. Some of the ideas being discussed include more no-trespassing signs, stronger fencing, and issuing more citations.

Ranchers like Justice say they have better things to do than chasing cattle and calling law enforcement to help them out. “There’s never a good time to have your cattle get out in the street, but it’s especially inconvenient when it’s about 9 to 10 at night,” said Justice. “There are a lot better things you’d rather be doing... like sleeping.”

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