Motion-sensor cameras on farms

By Alexia Johnston

Sheep graze beside the Beaumont highway near Tuapeka West.
Sheep graze beside the Beaumont highway near Tuapeka West.

Farmers are turning to hunting technology to protect stock from thieves.

While Parliament is debating a proposed law that would impose harsher penalties on stock rustlers, property owners are already taking steps to protect their stock.

Hunting and Fishing New Zealand Timaru owner Alister Jones said a ''huge'' percentage of his sales were now going towards farmers who wanted to protect their land and property.

Previously, sales of motion sensor cameras, also known as game cameras, were predominantly made to hunters who wanted to monitor and catch animals such as deer.

While they were still popular among hunters, a growing number of people were relying on the devices as a security measure, thanks to the improved quality of the cameras, Mr Jones said.

''What we are seeing more farmers doing is putting them in place where they can't monitor from day to day.

''(The) cameras are becoming better and better. They are taking better images and faster photos.''

The images were now also sharper than they used to be because they were less pixellated he said.

National's Rangitikei MP Ian McKelvie is also doing his bit to help farmers in the event of stock rustling.

Mr McKelvie recently put his Sentencing (Livestock Rustling) Amendment Bill to the House for its first reading.

The Bill, which would give courts the power to hand down harsher punishments for rustling, will now go to the primary production select committee for consideration.

Stock theft is estimated to cost farmers $120million or more a year, Mr McKelvie told the House.

But it was not just the economic effect, he said.

''I don't know how many of us in this House know what it's like being woken in the middle of the night by gunshots in close proximity to your house.

''That house could be some kilometres from the nearest neighbour. To look out the window only to see vehicle lights just appearing over the hill, to go out not only to find bits of your sheep, deer, steer, or pig lying in the paddock with the best cuts gone down the road - that's if you're lucky. If you're not lucky, you could find a truckload (of animals) have gone.''

Federated Farmers meat and fibre chairman Miles Anderson said courts were not as tough on rustlers as many farmers would like and he welcomed the idea of that changing.

The Bill calls for livestock theft to be considered an ''aggravating factor'' when a convicted offender is sentenced.

Mr Anderson said much of the credit for the Bill's progress lies with his predecessor Rick Powdrell.

''He was tireless in highlighting farmers' concerns about rustling and pushing for better deterrents,'' he said.

''If rustling becomes an aggravating factor in stock theft cases, there is room for judges to order stiffer penalties.''

He said existing aggravating factors under the Sentencing Act 2002 include actual or threatened use of a weapon, unlawful entry or presence in a dwelling place, and that the crime was committed while the offender was on bail.

''It's certainly a useful deterrent but Federated Farmers would have preferred it went further. Our 2017 election manifesto called for livestock thieves to be subject to the same powers of seizure that can come into play with poaching of fish, paua and the like - that is vehicles and other equipment used in the commission of the crime may be forfeited.''

- Otago Daily Times

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