18th April 2024  admin  Category :

GPS-wearing cows may be answer to stopping cattle thieves in their tracks

ABC Rural By Amy McCosker

It is a crime evoking bushrangers and cattle duffers of old, but stock theft has become a modern crime and researchers are hoping to find a technological solution.

A team from Central Queensland University (CQU) in Rockhampton believes a motion-sensing GPS device may hold the clue.

The device detects mustering activity and sends a message to a grazier’s phone.

Researchers hope it might hold the answer to reducing livestock theft which, according to the 2001/2002 National Farm Crime Survey, affected 6 per cent of farms at an estimated annual cost of $16 million.

Key is understanding animal behaviours

Project leader Associate Professor Mark Trotter said preliminary trials had been promising.

“The core technology already exists so things like GPS tracking and motion-sensing tracking [are] a little bit like a fitbit that you see people wearing,” Dr Trotter said.

Dr Trotter said the key would be understanding the difference between natural and unnatural behaviours.

“It’s not rocket science. You can see that variation in behaviour as animals coalesce into a group and you move them — you can see variations in speed,” he said.

“It may be that it provides an alert saying ‘your animals are being interfered with’ and it’s up to the farmer to interpret that.

“Obviously, if it’s 2am on a full moon night and you’ve received a text message saying your animals are being mustered and you’re snug in bed, then it’s probably not you and you probably need to do something.”

Police welcome innovative crime prevention

It is an idea that could work according to those on the front lines of solving rural crimes.

Queensland Stock and Rural Crime Investigation Squad Detective Senior Sergeant Jim Lacey said criminals were using technology to commit crime.

He said it therefore made sense that graziers would also adopt a more modern approach.

“We’re living in 2017 now so you’ve got technology there, you’ve got road trains, infrastructure,” Det Snr Sgt Lacey said.

“So any type of technology that’s going to assist police and the rural communities in combating stock theft is certainly going to be welcomed.”

He said the type of ‘real time’ notification such technology could provide would be useful in solving the crimes.

“Some properties are very large, people don’t get around their stock as often as they’d like to so technology like this might just alert them to a problem earlier,” he said.

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