Cattle rustlers still plague today’s ranchers, which is why the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association hires special rangers to protect local herds. In Llano County, that’s Special Ranger Mike Barr of District 26, Region 2, which also includes Bandera, Blanco, Comal, Gillespie, Kendall, Kerr, and Mason counties — a total of 7,000 square miles of Texas.
One of 25 special rangers in the state, Barr investigates cases involving animal cruelty, theft, and kidnapping. A special ranger since 2013, he also served in the Texas State Guard as a specialist in the military police. He worked as an officer in Coleman County and then as a sheriff’s deputy in Brown County, where he became a sergeant. His job as special ranger fulfills a career goal.
“I just thought, ‘One day, that’s what I want to be,’” he said. “I put my application in. I kept being persistent, and I kept trying. It worked out very well.”
Here is what else he had to say about being a special ranger, a group that has served ranchers since 1877 and that novelists have compared to the Texas Rangers, Scotland Yard, and Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Everyone who’s a special ranger, they have to have prior law enforcement experience. You have to have at least five years of active work before you can apply. Most of us retired from other agencies like the Texas Game Wardens and the Texas Rangers.
Dogs, cattle, horses can’t tell you what the problem is. A veterinarian has to work on the problems they see. We have to prove that and investigate that. That’s what’s so intriguing.
We assist other agencies. When I was on the border, I assisted in cases where cattle were coming into the country illegally. We’d catch the cattle and haul them to Presidio for testing to make sure they didn’t bring diseases. Horses, donkeys, and cattle, they were also illegaland brought narcotics and humans as well. It’s something all the time.
We come across all kinds of people in this field. We have to take evidence before the grand jury to make a case. It’s a unique occupation. I would encourage anyone interested to pursue a career like this. It is different.
We are not paid by the state. Our pay comes from association fees. Through the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (the regulatory agency for all peace officers in Texas), I’ve had several hundreds of hours of training over the years.
We have laws we have to abide by. I’ve seen some episodes of (the TV series) “Yellowstone.” They dramatize things (about this job). We don’t have a train station. You’ll have to see the series. We’re told that we need to have a train station.
Ranchers are the salt of the earth. That’s their livelihoods. (My family), we raised cattle ourselves, and livestock. I want to try to help those folks. We want to do the best we can to recover their stuff and get (the criminals) prosecuted.