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AUSTIN — Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) applauded the final passage of HB 2817, authored by State Representative Mary Gonzalez (D-El Paso) and sponsored by Senator Charles Perry (R-Lubbock). The legislation was sent yesterday to Gov. Abbott for his signature. Provisions within the bill ensure those who criminally kill livestock will be held accountable, and that TSCRA Special Rangers have the tools necessary to continue their steadfast protection of Texas’ ranchers.
“It is imperative that we work together to ensure the continued success of Texas cattle raisers, and I am very appreciative of the dedication shown by Rep. Gonzalez and Sen. Perry on this vital legislation,” said TSCRA President Richard Thorpe. “I look forward to Gov. Abbott’s signature, which will make sure these safeguards are in place for Texas ranchers.”
TSCRA Special Rangers have noticed a disturbing increase in offenses that involve the criminal killing of livestock, prompting concern for the welfare of the cattle and the livelihoods of Texas cattle raisers.
“Too often, farmers and ranchers have their livestock maliciously killed and are unable to pursue equitable justice for their loss,” said Rep. Gonzalez. I am proud that the Texas Legislature passed HB 2817, and am deeply appreciative of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association for their hard work in helping pass this important piece of legislation for rural Texas.”
At present, criminal offenses involving the killing of cattle do not carry the same penalty as stealing that same animal, although both crimes have the same net effect on the rancher. Regardless of whether an animal is stolen or killed, the rancher loses the value of that animal and its potential offspring. HB 2817 ensures that shooting a cow will be as punitive as stealing it, a minimum third-degree felony.
“Those who needlessly kill cattle, bison, or horses are not just harming the animals, they are attacking the rancher’s livelihood. I was honored to sponsor House Bill 2817, which increases criminal penalties for those who commit these heinous crimes. Ranching has deep roots in Texas and this bill sends a message that the legislature will not tolerate anyone who messes with our ranching community,” said Sen. Perry.
The bill was also amended in the Texas Senate, by Chairman Perry to include language from a separate House bill, authored by Rep. Tracy King (D-Uvalde), that had passed unanimously from the House Agriculture and Livestock Committee. The provision guarantees that TSCRA can continue its cattle inspection program, a valuable asset for Texas ranchers. Over the past decade, the program has helped recover or account for more than 37,000 head of stolen cattle and related property worth more than $42 million.