Predator Drone Used to Arrest American Ranch Family

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Kirsty WigglesworthA Predator drone designed to catch terrorists in Afghanistan was used to track a recalcitrant North Dakota rancher and his sons accused of cattle thieving and monitor them to see when they were unarmed and alert the police in a case believed to be the first where an American citizen was arrested with the aid of a drone.

On Jan. 14, 2014, Rodney Brossart was acquitted of stealing cattle and criminal mischief, but convicted of terrorizing police (a conviction he is appealing) and sentenced to three years in prison with all but six months suspended.

This all stems from an incident on June 22, 2011, when six cattle from a neighboring property wandered onto Brossart’s ranch. Brossart found the cattle and, not knowing to whom they belonged, penned them in an area known as the “missile site.”

Brossart refused to return the cattle without remuneration (which he is entitled to under state law), but the police asserted that Brossart needed to return the cattle to the neighbor under estray laws.

According to the North Dakota statute on estrays or stray animals (Chapter 36-13), a person may take possession of a stray animal when it is on their property if it does not know who owns it. Once the owner is identified, the person shall notify the county sheriff or chief brand inspector. The person who takes possession of an estray may charge for actual damage done to the person’s crops or property by the estray as well as costs incurred for the care and feeding of the estray.

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