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      Cattle rustlers targeting southwest Missouri ranches

      Over 200 cattle have been stolen in this area in a 2 year period.

      Authorities say several ranches in southwest Missouri have been targeted recently by cattle thieves.

      The Joplin Globe reports (http://bit.ly/W3LLGa ) that Lawrence County is one of Missouri's top cow-calf producing counties and is among several area counties that have become the target of cattle rustlers.

      A cattle industry spokesman estimates that about 200 cattle have been stolen in the past two years in Southwest Missouri, making a potential loss of $200,000. Local cattlemen think the actual number of cattle stolen has been underreported.

      Eldon Cole, a cattle expert with University of Missouri Extension in Lawrence County, says it appears thieves are mixing the stolen cattle with other cattle of a similar type before taking them to market.

      There are also $5,000 rewards for the arrest and conviction of cattle thieves.