Persistent pair find lost cows
ISN'T this wonderful, said Heather Jones as she smiled and photographed each of the cows that made their way off the cattle truck and into the cattle yards on their farm in Whangaripo Valley on Monday afternoon.
It was a happy ending to five weeks of worry after 22 cattle were stolen from a back paddock on their 108-hectare farm at the beginning of April (Rodney Times, April 8).
A fence was found cut on Good Friday and 20 pregnant cattle and two milking cows were missing.
Heather and Arthur were determined to find and bring home the breeding cows that they had run on their property for six years along with around 90 others.
Arthur's five-year-old great-grandson Brody had become very attached to one animal with the ear tag 43.
"She was tame enough and would let him sit on her," says Heather.
"Brody was angry and upset that she had been taken."
While they had their suspicions as to who might be responsible there was no proof.
There had been reports of a cattle truck on a road nearby around the time they disappeared.
"My feeling was they were still here somewhere," says Arthur.
They contacted local carriers and stock agents and along with a neighbour, who had also had four cattle taken, made contact with a private investigator.
The local rural community was buzzing about it and really supportive, says Heather.
One suggestion saw the couple head off on a trip to Rotorua following a lead.
Then after three weeks, comments overheard by a local youngster suggested the cattle were not only still in the area but close by.
While walking through a nearby bush reserve next to a leased farm they were able to make out their cattle in with a herd.
They contacted police.
The couple anxiously waited for a search warrant to progress amid concerns the cattle might be shifted off the property.
With their neighbour they regularly checked the cattle during the day and hired a security firm to keep watch at night.
On Monday the search warrant was executed and they were called to a nearby farm by police to identify their cattle.
"When the police brought them into the yard, they came straight up to me.
"I just cried," says Heather.
The cattle all had positive pregnancy tests and while they now sport different ear tags they were checked against the photographs Heather and Arthur had previously taken.
They were then loaded on to a truck and taken the short distance back to the couple's farm.
Eight people have lost cattle in the area over the last six years, says Heather.
And with only one of their neighbour's four missing cattle found, she says they are grateful to get any of theirs back.
They are now planning on freeze-branding all their cattle.
Rodney CIB officer in charge Kevin Burke says although some animals have been recovered, inquires into the matter are continuing.