North Antrim MLA Robin Swann has called on the Justice and Farming Ministers “to urgently devise a plan of action in conjunction with the PSNI to combat the increasing scourge of cattle rustling”.
Mr Swann issued his call after it emerged that almost 9,000 cattle had gone missing or were stolen over the past three years.
He warned that organised crime gangs may be involved with the theft of cattle across Northern Ireland.
He added: “Cattle rustling is a serious problem for the agricultural industry not just in the constituency, but right across Ulster, costing it millions of pounds and leaving farmers doubting whether their cattle are even secure on their own private land.
“Indeed, the scale and audacity of recent thefts will have surprised even the most hardened observer.
“I recently asked the Sinn Fein Minister of Agriculture for more information on the scale of the problem and I was shocked to learn that since 2010 there have been 8,891 cattle reported as missing or stolen. There were 3,070 reports in 2010/11, 2,807 in 2011/12 and 3,014 in 2012/13.
“There are two issues which surprised me with these figures; firstly the scale of the problem varies significantly across different areas with it being particularly acute in the Dungannon and Armagh Divisional Veterinary areas which had 788 and 497 reports respectively last year. More....