Brutality, or just having a bit of fun?

Last updated 08:43 22/03/2014

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The organisers of the annual Huntly Rodeo are under investigation by the Ministry for Primary Industries, after allegations of animal cruelty were levelled at the event.

Auckland-based animal rights campaigner Lynn Charlton was among those who attended the January 26 event, where she filmed scenes of steers and calves being roped and allegedly kicked in pens, and horses bucking and rearing in pens - footage that was screened as part of a television news item this week.

Ms Charlton said the scenes were "par for the course" for rodeo events in New Zealand and they needed to be outlawed.

The footage she took showed animals who were "clearly under stress".

"One of the rodeo participants we talked to said the animals were happy to do this and have a bit of fun before they go to the slaughterhouse. I don't think any of the animals there on that day were having any sort of fun."

Huntly Rodeo Club president Fraser Graham admitted some of the events did appear to be tough on the animals.

"It's not an ideal look . . . the calf-roping event is the one which is probably a little bit harder on the calves, but they are not hurt," he said. "All the animals are inspected before and after each event and a sign-off is done. The SPCA had people there and they were happy."

Mr Graham's family supply bulls and steers for most of the rodeos held around the North Island and they own the country's largest herd of Texas longhorn cattle. "These people [who took the footage] never made contact with us. They should have had the courtesy to say 'We are here and can we take pictures?'."

A ministry spokesman said it was not possible to give a time frame on when the investigation would be completed or whether any charges against the rodeo organisers would be pending. He confirmed the probe was focused solely on this year's Huntly Rodeo.

The complaint the ministry received was the only one concerning a rodeo that it had received in the last six years, he said. Fairfax NZ

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