The remains of two slaughtered cattle have been found dumped at Languard Bluff in Whanganui following numerous reports of livestock thefts and moves to introduce tougher penalties for those convicted of such crimes.
Spotted by passersby early yesterday morning, the remains appeared to be fresh and there was still a considerable amount of meat on the bones.
Stock thefts have long been a concern for Rangitīkei MP Ian McKelvie who has introduced a private member's bill in Parliament to seek tougher penalties for those caught.
He has received cross-party support for the bill has been sent to a select committee and had the backing of Federated Farmers provincial Whanganui president Mike Cranston.
Cranston said thefts had not been taken seriously enough in the past.
"Farmers can't lock our goods away at night and someone stealing stock is really not different from someone smashing a window and stealing goods," he said.
Cranston was disappointed there was no longer a rural police officer in the region to deal specifically with the problem.
"One thing the police now have in place is a matching system for suspicious car registrations so they will see an alert if the number comes up again."
Meanwhile, McKelvie's proposed bill could result in offenders losing vehicles and a maximum fine of $5000.
"[Justice Minister] Andrew Little has taken it up and he wants to see tougher penalties imposed as well," he said.
"The offences range from opportunistic grabs of a few sheep and cows to highly organised thefts of large numbers of stock where the stolen animals have been turning up at the works."
Cranston also said the thefts also carry a biosecurity risk and could cause the spread of Mycoplasma bovis disease.
"It is not a health risk to humans but it could seriously compromise the containment of the disease."
Home butchery operations were also of great concern and Cranston said there must be serious consequences for anyone who buys stolen meat.
"Anyone who knowingly buys the meat is just as bad as the people who stole it."
Cranston said there was a health risk in eating meat that has not been butchered in a proper environment.
The remains at Languard Bluff provide no clues as to what breed the cattle were.