Cattle thefts force meeting

Rueben HaleThe West Australian

Police in Leonora have organised a meeting between station owners, caretakers and managers to sort out tensions relating to ongoing issues surrounding cattle management, mustering and identification.

Representatives from the Department of Agriculture and Pastoralists and Graziers Association of WA, a Pastoral Lands Board Community Member and a stock agent are set to attend, in addition to police and representatives from the Shires of Leonora and Menzies.

Northern Goldfields pastoralist Paul Axford said he was looking forward to attending the meeting and to be given the opportunity to "air his grievances" after claiming to have been robbed of thousands of dollars worth of cattle he believed had "mysteriously" ended up on other stations in the area.

Mr Axford, of Sturt Meadows station, claimed he and other station owners had recorded heavy stock losses because of theft.

He said he had made allegations to police that, on a number of musters in the past five years, his stock had been moved by a third party from his neighbour's destocked property to another location.

"At the last muster a few weeks ago, we lost about 30 cattle that just disappeared after wandering onto a neighbour's property," he said.

"The first time we started to have issues of this nature was in 2010. We lost about 400 cows," he said.

"But in 2010 the cattle were only worth about $25 a head. We ended up getting only nine of those cows that were in terrible condition back.

"In 2012, a breach of our fence allowed about 70 cattle to wander onto a neighbour's property.

"On that occasion, our neighbour mustered and impounded those cattle on his property and then sent us a bill for $20,000 to get them out of the yard.

"Those cattle ended up being sold by the Shire of Leonora after the matter was transferred to them by the owner of the property … we're still owed about $15,000 for the cattle."

Leonora police Acting Sergeant Jamie Creswell said the purpose of the meeting was to discuss issues such as, but not limited to, suggested guidelines for notification of neighbouring landowners prior to boundary musters, police advice on reporting incidents, stock identification and movement regulations.

"The issues surrounding the new legislation and lack of information given to station owners, managers and care takers makes this a difficult and grey area for the police to assist with when any complaints arise," he said.

"It is hoped this meeting will assist all involved to gain a better understanding of the new legislation and offer advice around mustering with the aim of avoiding any issues or allegations occurring, and how to approach and deal with any complaints encountered."

The proposed date for the meeting is Friday, June 12, at Leonora Bowling Club.

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