31 December 2022

Moruya's New Year's Day rodeo to go ahead as activists push for it to be banned

| Zoe Cartwright
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Animal welfare at rodeos has been debated at Eurobodalla Council as Moruya Rodeo’s licence goes up for renewal. Photo: Animal Liberation Facebook.

An animal rights group in Batemans Bay wants Moruya’s annual New Year’s Day rodeo canned.

The licence for the event expired in November 2022, but due to a hold-over clause in the previous licence tomorrow’s New Years’ Day Rodeo will go ahead.

The council will make a decision about whether to issue a new, five-year licence for the event on 31 January.

Animal Liberation Batemans Bay is holding stalls across the Eurobodalla Shire in the lead-up to the council meeting.

Organiser Coral Anderson said volunteers would give the public information to enable them to make submissions to the Eurobodalla Shire Council about the licensing of the Moruya Rodeo event.

“Animal Liberation, the RSPCA and all animal welfare agencies worldwide do not support these events,” Ms Anderson said.

“They are banned in the ACT for reasons of cruelty to animals.”

READ MORE Eurobodalla councillors urged to pull calf roping from Moruya Rodeo with event’s licence up for renewal

The Moruya Showground has hosted rodeos since 1968; men and women compete in all events, with some comptitors stepping into the ring at just eight years of age.

Events include barrel races, steer wrestling, bareback rides, bull rides and calf-roping.

Calf-roping in particular came under fire in a petition tabled at a recent council meeting.

Louise Webb - RSPCA volunteer, Mariana Brant - Animal Liberation Batemans Bay and Coral Anderson, Animal Liberation Batemans Bay

RSPCA volunteer Louise Webb, with Animal Liberation Batemans Bay members Mariana Brant and Coral Anderson. Photo: Supplied.

The petition urged councillors to take “whatever action necessary” to remove events from the rodeo which “involve the imposition of pain upon any animal”.

“Pain is defined in the [Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979] as including ‘suffering’ and ‘distress’,” the petition stated.

“Meeting that requirement would therefore, at the very least, require the removal of the calf-roping event in which terrified calves are chased, lassoed and jerked to a sudden stop and then flung on their backs.”

Animal Liberation’s regional campaigns manager Lisa Ryan queried whether practices considered normal in a rodeo would be seen as appropriate anywhere else.

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“Would council approve or support an event licence for five to six years for a rodeo which included dogs and puppies rather than cattle, calves and horses?” she said.

Moruya Rodeo Committee president Andy Mehl defended the event.

He said it operated in accordance with the DPI’s code of practice for animals used in rodeo events, and submitted to the council a letter written by the local vet who currently oversees the event.

The letter said the veterinary practice “has always been impressed with the condition and care that is taken with animals and their welfare”.

“We have never had to attend an injury by animals involved in the rodeo,” it stated.

Mr Mehl also pointed out about 4000 people attended the event annually, and in good financial years it donated extra cash.

The submission period for public feedback on the renewal of the rodeo’s licence ends on 31 January 2023.

Submissions can be made here.

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