Rodeo community and animal activists at odds over rodeo practices

Morning Talk 02/03/2018

The rodeo industry has denied using four of the five controversial practices the Government says it will investigate, following weeks of protests against the sport.

Rodeos will not be banned in New Zealand because Associate Minister of Agriculture Meka Whaitir said welfare evidence and the sport’s cultural significance doesn’t warrant it.

However, Ms Whaitir said she'd asked animal welfare officials to look into calf-roping, electric prodders, flank straps, rope burning and tail twisting.

Hans Kriek, spokesperson for Save Animals From Exploitation (SAFE), applauded the move. But the Government has not gone far enough for animal activists.

Mr Kriek said that SAFE is “disappointed” that the Government has opted not to ban the sport altogether.

The SAFE spokesperson said that it’s expected that the Labour-led Government will eventually ban rodeo if they “stick to their promises”.

Listen to the full interview with Hans Kriek above. 

Rodeo and Cowboys Association spokesperson Michael Laws reminded The AM Show that rodeos have banned all but one of the five controversial practises mentioned by the Government.

"Four of them are illegal and we would frown on them anyhow. They are not best rodeo practise at all. The only thing we do is calf-roping."

In calf-roping, a rider on a horse tried to catch a calf with a loop of rope, before dismounting and tying its legs together. Green MP Gareth Hughes is drafting a Private Members Bill to have it outlawed.

"I think everyone could agree it's unacceptable to have cows as young as three months tormented in these events," Mr Hughes told Newshub in December.

But Mr Laws assured The AM Show that calves "are not stressed by it to a considerable degree" and that it's "not aggressive".

"Animals just don't get injured in this sport...

“Less than in normal farming practise and in virtually every other animal sport."

Mr Laws told The AM Show that it's far more likely people get hurt than animals.

We're the most scrutinised sport in New Zealand.

However, this is another reason animal activists want it banned.

"[Rodeo} shows a very reckless attitude towards animals,” Dan Challenger from the Animal Justice League told Newshub in January. “Not only that but it shows a reckless attitude towards people's safety as well.”

Mr Laws said the Government’s decision to keep rodeo will please the large rodeo community in Otago, where he lives now.

"They have been unfairly maligned for a long time.

"We're the most scrutinised sport in New Zealand. Every year we get scrutinised, and every year the same report comes back - that we're doing it properly, that the animal welfare legislation is fine."

Rodeos are expected to follow the Animal Welfare Act 1999 and relevant codes of welfare.

Tune in to the full interviews with Hans Kriek and Michael Laws above.

Morning Talk with Mark Sainsbury, weekdays from 9am-noon on RadioLIVE and streaming live to the ROVA app on Android and iPhone.

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