An animal welfare group has purchased a $14,000 robotic drone aircraft to keep an eye on cattle operations in Australia, putting privacy rights at risk.

Animal Liberation plans to use the drone to collect evidence of animal abuse. reports the group applied to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority to use the equipment and executive director Mark Pearson says the group will operate the drone within the law.

Some cattle producers live near their cattle and say use of the drone is an invasion of privacy.

David Warriner, president of the Northern Territory Cattleman's Association, told Adelaide Now he knows some farmers who would “have a go at the drone with their gun." Even if the drone isn't an invasion of privacy, Warriner says it isn't ethical.

Pearson, meanwhile, says the drone would film a livestock operation from 10 meters off the ground without breaching privacy laws.

Animal Liberation must first meet all of the criteria required by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority to operate the drone.