Animal Liberation activists launch spy drone to test free-range claims

Animal Liberation activists have dramatically stepped up their campaign against intensive livestock production, with their first official investigation using a hexacopter drone to capture aerial footage.

The animal rights charity purchased a $14,000 aircraft earlier this year and had it fitted with a $3,000 high-definition video camera, stabilisers and a 10-times zoom lens.

“It gives the opportunity to document from above 10 metres and below 30 metres, and it is lawful,” said Animal Liberation NSW executive director Mark Pearson.

“So the key to the remote-controlled device is that it’s actually vision that’s obtained without trespass, it’s obtained lawfully in our airspace so what it documents is something that can be used by all the authorities, police and the courts.”

It was recently used to film a free-range egg farm at Dora Creek on the Central Coast of New South Wales and another at Maitland, north of Newcastle.

Animal Liberation says it is providing the pictures to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to investigate whether the farms are really free range.

“If it’s free range, the birds must have access to outside vegetation, palatable vegetation,¬†shade, light, dust, etc, to fulfil their needs, which is what consumers expect to be the case if consumers are paying the premium for free-range eggs,” Mr Pearson said.

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