Num­ber’s up on sheep rustlers

● Mi­crodot mark­ers in fleece help pro­tect flocks

The Press and Journal (Moray) - - NEWS -

Arev­o­lu­tion­ary new mark­ing sys­tem has been rolled out in a bid to de­ter sheep rustling. Drum­mond Es­tate near Com­rie, which grazes around 3,000 sheep, hosted the launch of the TecTracer theft-de­ter­rent sys­tem yes­ter­day.

It in­grains thou­sands of coded mi­crodot mark­ers into each sheep’s fleece, thus iden­ti­fy­ing the an­i­mal and which farm it comes from.

David Wal­lace, of the Drum­mond Es­tate, said that sev­eral in­ci­dents of sheep rustling had proved costly for the busi­ness and wel­comed this new in­no­va­tion.

“We’ve ex­pe­ri­enced first-hand how sneaky and re­source­ful th­ese crim­i­nals can be,” he said.

“The re­mote and iso­lated na­ture of much of Scot­land’s sheep graz­ing land and hill farms means thieves can op­er­ate unseen when they tar­get flocks. By mark­ing our an­i­mals with TecTracer we at least have some chance of get­ting them back.

“Sheep rustling is an in­creas­ing worry and this sys­tem is a valu­able tool in our fight against wouldbe crim­i­nals’ in­tent on steal­ing our prop­erty and dam­ag­ing our liveli­hoods.”

And Chief Su­per­in­ten­dent John McKen­zie, chair of the Scot­tish Part­ner­ship Against Ru­ral Crime (SPARC), added: “This is a fan­tas­tic ex­am­ple of part­ner­ship work­ing to tackle an as­pect of ru­ral crime that can im­pact on farm­ing com­mu­ni­ties through­out Scot­land.

“In re­duc­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for crim­i­nal­ity, we will be both creative and in­no­va­tive as SPARC recog­nises the im­pact of crime in ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties.

“Peo­ple liv­ing, work­ing or want­ing to en­joy ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties should have con­fi­dence in our drive to make a dif­fer­ence and tackle ru­ral crime in all its forms.” John Mi­nary, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of TecTracer said by us­ing thou­sands of coded mi­crodots backed up by a database, the com­pany is pro­vid­ing a “multi-lay­ered re­sponse” that pro­tects sheep on hills and in glens.

“Where tra­di­tional ear tags can be re­moved, the mi­crodots stay within the fleece and this sim­ple pre­ven­ta­tive step turns the ta­bles on would-be thieves, mak­ing flocks iden­ti­fi­able and keep­ing them safe,” he said.

The launch of the TecTracer comes a month af­ter it emerged that £127,605 worth of live­stock had been stolen from the Grampian re­gion in the past four years.

Only £21,750 worth of an­i­mals were re­cov­ered safely.

In ad­di­tion to this, more than 60 ve­hi­cles worth £245,119 were stolen in­clud­ing 25 quad bikes, 15 trac­tors, 12 trail­ers, five dig­gers and three fork­lifts.

Lorna Pater­son, re­gional man­ager for the north-east at farm­ers’ union NFU Scot­land said: “Thefts of ve­hi­cles, tools and live­stock are preva­lent in our re­gion.

“And the in­crease in live­stock wor­ry­ing cases is equally con­cern­ing.

“We has been work­ing with Po­lice Scot­land and other stake­hold­ers in the re­gion, shar­ing knowl­edge and build­ing upon in­tel­li­gence, with a view to mit­i­gat­ing this trend.”

“This sim­ple, pre­ven­ta­tive step turns the ta­bles on would-be thieves”

PROGRESS: The TecTracer sys­tem in grains thou­sands of coded mi­crodot mark­ers into a sheep’s fleece, iden­ti­fy­ing the an­i­mal and its home farm

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