Reducing the burden of livestock theft

24 Jul 2019

Livestock theft costs NSW producers millions of dollars a year, but a DNA fingerprinting service being introduced by the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) will help reduce that burden.

The service was recently trialled and is now being used in its first livestock theft investigation.

It uses advanced technology to provide the tools for law enforcement to better investigate livestock theft, animal welfare or cruelty cases.

NSW Department of Primary Industries Deputy Director General Biosecurity and Food Safety, Bruce Christie, said livestock theft is an extremely serious issue.

“Livestock theft is a significant burden on our producers,” Mr Christie said.

“We’re hoping the DNA test will be a significant asset to law enforcement in their efforts to prevent livestock theft.”

The DNA fingerprinting service analyses 200 DNA markers in the cattle genome. These markers allow stolen animals to be matched to the sire and dam on their originating property to confirm any links to an alleged theft.

Mr Christie said it is hoped the service will be utilised by law enforcement agencies across Australia.

“The NSW DPI is constantly searching for ways to support our producers using the latest science.”

The NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research figures show there were 422 recorded incidents of livestock theft in the 12 months to December 2018.

The DNA fingerprinting service was developed at Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute, the state’s premier quarantine and biosecurity research facility.

The Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute features world class plant and animal health laboratories and is home to internationally recognised scientists.

Testing and validation have confirmed the effectiveness of the service and it is now open to law enforcement agencies.

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