Douglas County Sheriff's Department
Douglas County Sheriff's Office and Douglas County Farm Bureau have teamed up for a program called Pasture ID.
The new identification system includes signs that allow sheriff's officers to contact owners of livestock and/or pastures immediately.
The first sign is free to Farm Bureau members and each additional sign is $15. For nonmembers, each sign is $15. To obtain a sign, visit the Farm Bureau's office at 1217 Biltmore Drive, Suite 200. For more information, contact Terri Wright, farm bureau county coordinator, at 843-2395.
A new program aims to save Douglas County Sheriff's deputies time and, ultimately, taxpayers money.
The Pasture ID program was announced Tuesday by Douglas County Sheriff Ken McGovern and Loren Baldwin, a member of the Douglas County Farm Bureau's board.
The program uses black-and-white metal signs that ranchers can obtain from the farm bureau and post on pastures. The signs have an identification number on them, so when officers witness suspicious activity or loose animals near or in a pasture with a sign, they can contact the dispatch center and immediately find out who it belongs to.
"It's going to be a lot of savings to us to get a hold of dispatch and get the right number on who's got the pasture at that time," McGovern said.
Otherwise, sheriff's officers can spend hours trying to corral the animals while trying to find the owner.
"We deal with it quite a bit," McGovern said.
Douglas County has 880 farmers and 70,000 acres of pasture, so it's not surprising. Baldwin, a longtime cattleman, said he would bet there isn't a producer in the county who hasn't had trouble with livestock getting out.
Trespassing also is becoming a problem as the county becomes more urbanized.
"With the growing concern of meth production and trespassing on private property, if the deputies notice a suspicious act going on and the sign is up, they can gain permission to enter the property with a simple phone call," Baldwin said.
Douglas County is the third Kansas county to implement the program. The first was Barton County, where 34 farmers have signed up in two years.
"It's working out real well. We are getting a good response, but we hope to get a lot more," said Dianna Zeretzke, Barton County Farm Bureau's county coordinator.
Reno County also uses the program, and Zeretzke said several others are showing interest.
"I think it's a great program," McGovern said. "We are the third one on board, and I hope a lot more counties get involved. It's a cost savings to us."