WE get foul weather warnings, fire warnings and incident warnings on our Smartphones, so why not an escaped stock warning?
That was the question posed by Cr Meg Edwards recently at the South Gippsland Shire Council meeting when she suggested council look to technology to provide a solution to the dangers posed by stock on roads.
Cr Edwards said the idea came about when there was a report of her cattle allegedly escaping earlier this year but despite a search in the night by the shire’s local laws officer and her family, the cattle could not be found and it turned out the well-meaning person had provided the wrong location.
“This is just to get into a discussion about what existing or emerging technology might be used to keep our roads safe, save the ratepayers money, improve animal welfare outcomes and reduce the farmers’ risk as well,” said Cr Edwrads.
“Stock could be on the road for a range of reasons; fencing not being maintained is only one. A tree coming down over the fence, car accident… there can be a range of issues.
“Accurate geographical reporting using existing technology such as the ‘Snap Send Save’ app, which is free for users. You take a photo of the problem where you are and it sends it to the council with google maps and property ownership data already there.
“What I wanted to get on the table was to start discussion on using existing technology that would potentially not cost anything, would be more efficient by getting any stock off roads sooner and more accurate location reporting, reduce road risk to road users, farmers and animals and save ratepayers significant money.
“The motion, although lost, achieved what I set out for it to do… to get conversation happening.”
The motion was that council: 1. reviews its stock on roads processes and consider ways to innovate in partnership with Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF), Rural Councils Victoria, National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) and Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Organisation (CSIRO). 2. reports back to council by October 24, 2018 on progress.
Cr Ray Argento was concerned about the cost of keeping track of 350,000 cattle in the shire and whether or not it would require additional cost to farmers. He said Facebook might be a better option.
He asked one of the officers how many escaped cattle were notified to the shire annually to gauge the scope of the problem.
The officer reported that there had been 62 after hours callouts about cattle on roads and 207 during office hours.
Cr Don Hill said he thought the idea was ahead of its time, but he expressed concern that there was only one local laws officer in the shire who dealt with these issues.
Cr Andrew McEwen said he was open to the idea of exploring alternative options and if it was found to save money and get a better result, he’d be pleased to hear about it.
The Mayor Cr Lorraine Brunt said most escaped cattle issues were sorted out simply by good people finding the farmer whose cattle had escaped without the need to bring the authorities into the equation.
If the motion had been supported, farmers would have been invited to register their contact details (could be part of PIC registration process simply an extra box to tick) to be notified of any report to police and/or local authority when stock are reported on road, similar to severe weather warnings.
The farmers, say within a five kilometre radius of the report, would get an SMS and/or email alerting them that there has been a stock on road report registered.
Given that it is in farmers’ own interests, they would (if available) be able to check their own stock and fences (for trees down or malicious damage). If the farmer finds the stock on the road prior to authorities, they could take a picture of the stock, and of the problem being contained, and reply back to the alert so that the search is called off and marked as resolved.
It is also necessary to enable reporters of stock on roads to be able to clearly identify the geo-location of where the stock are (if they report on Snap, Send, Solve, it does this via geo-location). Reports over the phone, although well meaning, can sometimes lead to inaccurate location reported, a waste of resources and the issue (stock on road) still not resolved, according to an officer’s report to council.
The report also noted the potential of this program rolled out is that it could save considerable money each year to both ratepayers (due to callouts) and farmers.
It didn’t get up this time, interestingly enough with Cr Argento one of those voting for it but Crs Rich, Skinner, Hill, Brunt and Brown against, however it was food for thought.
Road users who see escaped stock on roads can call 5662 9200 (South Gippsland) and 5671 2211 (Bass Coast) or 000.