Cam­eras to catch hunters

The Northern Star - Northern New South Wales Rural Weekly - - News - Al­lan Thomp­son news@ru­ral­weekly.com.au

AN IN­CREASE in live­stock be­ing slaugh­tered by hunters is forc­ing des­per­ate farm­ers to in­stall hi-tech se­cu­rity cam­eras to catch armed tres­passers.

Fed-up East Gipp­s­land farm­ers say they are los­ing thou­sands of dol­lars in stock due to reck­less hunters en­ter­ing their prop­er­ties and shoot­ing in­dis­crim­i­nately.

Many farm­ers are in­stalling se­cu­rity cam­eras in the hope of prose­cut­ing shoot­ers, with one cam­era record­ing a shooter dressed in what looks like full com­bat gear, walk­ing across a farm at Ton­gio, near Swifts Creek, late last year.

The shoot­ings, com­bined with grow­ing cases of live­stock theft across Vic­to­ria, have re­newed calls for a greater po­lice fo­cus on farms and high-value an­i­mals.

The East Gipp­s­land farm­ers have formed the High Coun­try Il­le­gal Shoot­ers Group to tackle the prob­lem, with 23 land­hold­ers at­tend­ing a re­cent meet­ing of the group in Swifts Creek.

Vic­to­ria Po­lice have moved to al­lay farmer fears over the il­le­gal shoot­ers, promis­ing to crack down hard on of­fend­ers.

“We want to re­as­sure vic­tims that po­lice will act and in­ves­ti­gate re­ported in­ci­dents,” a po­lice spokesman said.

“Land­hold­ers are putting up cam­eras be­cause it is such a prob­lem, they are sick of this stuff,” Lead­ing Se­nior Con­sta­ble Gavin Mur­phy of Omeo Po­lice said.

“Imag­ine if this hap­pened in Mel­bourne – some­one dressed as a com­mando walk­ing around your back­yard with a high-pow­ered ri­fle. You would want to stop it as well. There’s a lot of angst among farm­ers. They don’t want clowns swarm­ing around their prop­erty.”

Omeo farmer Si­mon Lawlor has in­stalled cam­eras on his prop­erty but has so far had no luck iden­ti­fy­ing shoot­ers or num­ber plates.

“I would have had $15,000 worth of stock shot over the past few years,” Mr Lawlor said.

“There’s lots of angst, to be hon­est. Deer shoot­ers, not deer, are our big­gest sin­gle prob­lem.”

Mr Lawlor said farm­ers wanted polic­ing beefed up and penal­ties for rogue shoot­ers in­creased.

He said sin­gle-officer po­lice sta­tions at Omeo and Swifts Creek could not pa­trol such vast ar­eas.

“We need a spe­cial task­force to deal with the prob­lem, it is a much big­ger prob­lem than they let on,” he said.

He said farm­ers weren’t anti-hunt­ing, they just wanted to stop peo­ple from en­ter­ing their prop­er­ties.

Cas­silis res­i­dent and High Coun­try Il­le­gal Shoot­ers Group mem­ber Pe­ter Young said land­hold­ers wanted so­lu­tions.

“The main thing to come out of the last meet­ing was that if some­one sees some­thing il­le­gal, then they must call 000. It doesn’t mat­ter if they are just let­ting off fire­crack­ers,” he said.

“What’s been hap­pen­ing is that land­hold­ers see some­thing wrong, they call the lo­cal po­lice, but by the time they get there the tres­passers are gone and noth­ing is recorded.

“So the ex­tent of the prob­lem is not show­ing up in the sta­tis­tics.

“If ev­ery­thing is recorded by call­ing 000 then we have a pow­er­ful case to go to the gov­ern­ment and ask for ex­tra po­lice per­son­nel and penal­ties.”

PHOTO: ANDY ROGERS

TAK­ING A STAND: Omeo beef pro­ducer Si­mon Lawlor has in­stalled video sur­veil­lance on his prop­erty to try to catch hunters en­ter­ing his prop­erty.

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