Farmers Use DNA Tracking to Thwart Sheep Thieves

Sheep rustling has become a serious crime in the UK
By Josh Rosenblatt,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 24, 2017 2:09 PM CDT
Farmers Use DNA Tracking to Thwart Sheep Thieves
Farmers mark their sheep using SelectaDNA kits.   (Cumbria Police)

Police in England are hoping cutting-edge technology can help deter crime in the country's most pastoral regions. The Westmorland Gazette reports that police in Cumbria in England's Lake District have kicked off a 12-month pilot program with local farmers and forensic marking company SelectaDNA to help prevent sheep theft. SelectaDNA's system involves applying a liquid solution with a unique DNA code to the sheep. The solution can't be detected by the naked eye, but police can use an ultraviolet light to cross-check it with a database to determine if a sheep has been stolen, Modern Farmer reports.

On each participating farm, up to 100 sheep can be tagged with the SelectaDNA solution. Signs announcing participation in the program will be placed around each farm as an additional deterrent. Officials also hope the solution will help trace and retrieve sheep if they do get stolen. Livestock rustling has become a big problem in England. In 2014, more than 88,000 farm animals were stolen in the UK, at a cost of about $8.6 million. The SelectaDNA tracing technology is more than a decade old, but this is the first time it's being tested on livestock. The company claims a similar pilot program marking and tracking property in Manchester resulted in a 83% reduction in burglaries, per Modern Farmer. (More sheep stories.)

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