Rodeo report prompts mixed reviews from association, animal activists

Long Lunch 16/10/2018
Photo: File.

New Zealand’s rodeo association has welcomed a report recommending changes to the sport’s animal welfare procedures.

On Monday, the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) released a report to provide key improvements for rodeos to be provided to Associate Agriculture Minister Meka Whaitiri.

The report cited its primary concerns over steer wrestling, due to the impact of lifting and dumping the steer; and the rope and tie event, due to the lassoing causing a sudden stop when the calf is moving quite quickly.

Animal welfare is paramount to the rodeo environment.

The report said this potentially could cause damage to the calf’s neck muscles.

NAWAC also proposed the industry create a forum where event organisers, rodeo veterinarians and appointed welfare officers meet periodically with MPI and SPCA welfare inspectors to improve practices.

NAWAC committee chair Dr Gwyneth Verkerk said the discussions held throughout the creation of the report will help introduce positive changes to the upcoming rodeo season, the NZ Herald reports.

Lyal Cocks, president of the New Zealand Rodeo Cowboys Association, applauded the independent committee for their work.

“[The report] confronts and puts to bed some of those issues that keep coming up that have already been addressed,” Mr Cocks told RadioLIVE.

Meanwhile, the Green Party and animal activist group SAFE criticised the report for not going far enough.

“The Green Party is disappointed with NAWACs rodeo report and think waiting for further research and the rodeo association to self-regulate is negligent and will see animals continued to be hurt”, Green Party animal welfare spokesperson Gareth Hughes said in a statement.

SAFE called the report’s recommendations “toothless tweaks” – calling it no surprise that the Rodeo Association is welcoming the changes.

“The panel says the rope and tie and steer wrestling events have ‘substantial negative impacts’ for the animals, but doesn’t recommend banning them,” the organisation said in a press release.

But Mr Cocks rejects that sentiment, arguing that the rodeo industry is constantly “improving and adjusting” the sport to ensure animal welfare is maintained.

“Animal welfare is paramount to the rodeo environment,” he said. 

Listen to the full interview with Lyal Cocks above.

The Long Lunch with Wendyl Nissen, 12pm - 3pm on RadioLIVE and streaming live to the rova app on Android and iPhone.