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Rodeo industry under increased pressure

19 March 2018

Rodeo industry under increased pressure

As the rodeo season ends, opposition continues to ramp up to end these events, with animal advocacy organisation SAFE calling on the Government to make this season the last.

During the six-month rodeo season, which ended on Saturday with Waimarino rodeo, public concern has raised this issue to such a level that the cowboys are repeatedly having to defend their entertainment. There have been protests at many rodeos by people seeking an urgent end to this torment of animals, an announcement of a government review on rodeo practices and many media stories, most recently the Sunday show last night.

“This season has seen mounting pressure against rodeo, as cowboys continue to defend the indefensible. As public revulsion over rodeo cruelty continues to intensify, rodeo promoters are continuing to gloss over what they are forcing animals to endure for entertainment: pain, stress and fear, as well as injury and even death, such as the bull who was recently killed at the Martinborough bullride,” says campaigns director Mandy Carter.

“What the cowboys say publicly, so often contradicts the reality of what animals are forced to endure. Rodeo spokesperson Michael Laws said that electric prods are banned, while NZ Rodeo Cowboys Association president Lyal Cocks on the Sunday show said that he is, “trying to make sure that we don’t use electric prods”. However, footage from as recently as the Waikato rodeo on 17 February, shows electric shocks repeatedly being given to bulls confined in a chute, waiting to be forced into the rodeo area.”

“Volunteer investigators have been threatened with trespass and prevented from filming at a number of rodeos, including Waikato and Canterbury, to show what is really happening to these animals. Cowboys know they need to hide the truth from animal lovers; people who clearly see that rodeo is wrong.”

“Animal welfare experts condemn rodeo. Both SAFE and the SPCA have strong policies against the use of animals in these events. People attending rodeos rarely get a clear view of the fear and stress exhibited by many of the animals in the chutes, prior to being forced into the ring to ‘perform’. While the cowboys call rodeo a sport, if it was, the animals are more akin to a ball being kicked around the field, than to being one of the performers.”

The first step in enacting Labour’s pre-election promise to ban calf roping, flank straps, electronic prods, tail twisting and rope burning is in motion: Associate Agriculture Minister Meka Whaitiri's rodeo review announced in February. Green MP Gareth Hughes is also drafting a Private Member’s Bill to ban these practises.

“Rodeos are putting New Zealand’s international reputation for animal welfare at risk. Good farmers aim to minimize the stress inflicted on the animals they look after. Rodeo events inherently cause distress and put animals at risk of injury, while giving the impressionable children attending, the damaging message that animals exist to be overpowered and used for entertainment.”


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