The National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC), the independent committee that advises the Minister responsible for animal welfare, has today released a report on animal welfare in rodeos, together with advice to the Minister making recommendations to improve the welfare of the animals in rodeos.
The report entitled 'Rodeo events – How do they impact the sentient animal?' was commissioned in March by the then Minister responsible for animal welfare to advise on animal welfare within rodeos, the use of specific equipment and techniques, and the use of calves. NAWAC utilised an expert panel and a structured assessment process to evaluate the animal welfare impacts of the 7 rodeo events as listed in its existing code of welfare for rodeos.
NAWAC chair Dr Gwyneth Verkerk says positive changes are expected to be introduced over the 2018-2019 rodeo season as a result of the discussions held while developing this report and communicating the recommendations to the New Zealand Rodeo Cowboys Association (NZRCA).
"One significant recommendation in the report is for the establishment of a new rodeo animal welfare committee that would see key stakeholders, inside and outside the rodeo community, collaborating to improve the welfare of the animals in rodeos. This would cover monitoring and record-keeping of the use of animals; modifications to aspects such as equipment use, and ensuring the appropriate weights of animals in some events." Consideration will also be given to research examining the longer-term impacts of rodeo events on the animals.
Animal use in rodeos is regulated by the Animal Welfare Act 1999, the code of welfare for rodeos, and the new Animal Welfare Care and Procedures Regulations (2018), which came into force on 1 October 2018.
"It is essential that rodeo operators and participants follow the code and regulations, but there needs to be continuous improvements," says Dr Verkerk.
"We've seen constructive conversations between the various stakeholders during the development of this report, and the proposed committee will support continued progress in the way animals are cared for," says Dr Verkerk.
NAWAC will continue to encourage implementation of the recommendations and will take note of progress as the proposed committee is established and welfare-focused practices are adopted into the future.