MAF Announces Decision in Kaimanawa Horse Grazing Case

2 December 1998

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has decided it will not commence proceedings against a Hunterville grazier for an incident which led to the euthanasia of 16 Kaimanawa mustered horses in June this year.

The farmer was contacted by the Department of Conservation for the grazing of mustered Kaimanawa horses before and after sales. MAF investigations reveal communication between the parties responsible for the muster and the grazier became unclear after the sale of the horses.

MAF Regulatory Authority’s National Manager Enforcement, Jockey Jensen, said there was doubt that a link could be made between the weight and condition of the horses during and after the muster up to June, and the lack of food supplied during the grazing period.

There was also a strong argument to infer the initial condition of the horses was poor, he said. This in turn played a major contributory role for their condition in June.

"The Ministry believes it unlikely the Courts would convict the grazier on any charges which might be laid," Mr Jensen said.

When dealing with animal welfare issues, there was often a very fine line between mis-management and criminal liability for an offence under the current Animals Protection Act 1960. "MAF believes this is one of those cases where proving criminal liability would not be satisfied if placed before a Court," Mr Jensen said.

"However, MAF views the loss of these horses as a most unfortunate occurrence and will continue to work closely with agencies such as the RNZSPCA and the International League for the Protection of Horses to promote equine welfare in New Zealand," he said.

Mr Jensen also noted that the Animals Protection Act would be replaced next year by one of the two animal welfare bills currently before a Select Committee.

Media inquiries to:

Jockey Jensen, National Manager Enforcement, MAF Reg Enforcement Unit (09)357 6472

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