Animal liberationists call on ag minister to ban calf roping
Animal Liberation Queensland has called on Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Minister Mark Furner to ban calf roping at rodeos.
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Mr Furner said recently that finalising Queensland’s first-ever Rodeo Standards & Guidelines was a priority for his department, but has yet to reveal any decision about the fate of calf roping, including whether there might be a period of public consultation.
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The animal protection groups involved in the development of the S&Gs (Australian Veterinary Association, RSPCA Qld, Animals Australia, Animal Welfare League Qld and ALQ) were in unanimous agreement at the end of 2019 that the event should be banned, as it was in Victoria in 1986 and South Australia in 2007. Rodeo industry representatives wish to retain the event.
Gympie MP, grazier and state opposition spokesman for agriculture, fisheries and forestry Tony Perrett said he too looked forward to the release of any proposed new standards and guidelines but that any changes needed to be done in consultation with the National Rodeo Association and event holders across Queensland.
“Rodeos are a longstanding tradition and are part of the bush fabric of rural and regional Queensland,” he said.
“These types of events are very popular and supported across the state. No one condones animal cruelty. I understand that vets are already required to be available at rodeos.”
ALQ’s Rodeo Campaign Director, Gayle D’Arcy said the evidence was overwhelming for a ban on calf roping, and included:
- Scientific evidence: Two recent Australian scientific studies into calf roping have both concluded that the event causes significant stress to vulnerable young animals.
- Public Opinion: In 2019, over 60 000 people signed a petition asking for a Qld ban. Tens of thousands of Queenslanders have emailed their state MPS and the Minister over the past couple of years. Representative sampling of Queenslanders conducted independently in 2019 showed a clear majority opposed the event. Additionally, the Qld Department of Agriculture and Fisheries advised ALQ in 2019 that calf roping was one of the top two issues that they receive complaints about.
- Observational Evidence: There are many behavioural indicators that the calves are stressed including bellowing, tongues hanging out, and whites of their eyes showing.
Industry’s failure to argue convincingly for retention of the event: The rodeo industry’s main argument as to why the calf roping event should remain legal in Qld is that there is a new roping device available, which they claim lessens the shock of the roping impact. However, this device has never been independently tested on calves and so the industry claims are completely speculative.
“Recent industry claims that ‘better technology’ has made calf roping less stressful are utterly at odds with footage from Queensland rodeos so far in 2021. Vulnerable young animals continue to be exploited, frightened, and at risk of injury. In fact, the nasty calf ropings we’ve seen so far this year are up there with the worst we’ve seen in a long time,” Ms D’Arcy said.
“If Minister Furner is fair dinkum about wanting high standards of animal welfare in Queensland, the decision to ban calf roping should be a no-brainer. How can any decent politician argue for the continued brutalisation of calves in the name of sport and entertainment?”
Mr Furner’s office was contacted for comment.