The Mt Isa Rodeo is the largest and richest rodeo in the Southern Hemisphere with $200 000 in prize money on offer. It is the biggest fundraiser of the year for two Mount Isa Rotary clubs. 25 000 spectators attend the three day event. The purpose-built rodeo arena was built at a cost of 20 million dollars. The "stock" used in this rodeo are trucked in from all parts of Australia by stock contractors. The cowboys who ride these animals come from all parts of Australia too. They compete against each other for points and cash prizes.
ALQ volunteers’ report
Rodeo animals, like circus animals, might be trained to perform in the ring, but that doesn’t prevent them from being injured or stressed during the actual events. At Mt Isa, this stress was particularly obvious in the calf roping event (known as rope and tie). Although all the calves competing got up after being released from the ‘tie’, they seemed noticeably dazed and confused by what had just happened to them.
A large animal vet who has concerns about this event contacted ALQ earlier this year to inform us that although there may not appear to be any immediate physical trauma to the calves, physical problems directly caused by calf roping may appear later on. Internal bruising may also result from the rough handling the calves endure in this event. So although the Mt Isa Rodeo’s printed program had a specific section on animal welfare which stated that a zero injury rate was the aim, it is well-nigh impossible in the short term to know if this was actually achieved.
It was interesting to note that the Mt Isa crowd’s reaction to the calf roping event was similar to what we have observed at many rodeos. It was commonplace to hear negative comments such as, “Oh the poor thing, hurry up and let it go.” The crowd reaction is one of concern and dismay at the apparent disregard for the calves’ welfare and wellbeing.
Animal Liberation Qld remains determined to continue with our pursuit to have this ‘rope and tie’ event removed from the rodeo line-up.
The steer wrestling event at the Mt Isa Rodeo also caused great concern as in some cases the steers’ necks were twisted and jerked at alarming angles in the efforts to bring the animals to the ground. Unsurprisingly, the animals often appeared quite dazed immediately afterwards.
To give credit where credit is due, the skill of many riders whose job was to manoeuvre the rodeo animals back into their pens was obvious. These riders and horses worked together well to cause minimum stress to the bucking horses and bulls once their riders were off their backs.
Injuries to competitors
The cowboys were not without their share of injuries with knockouts, concussions and broken bones, but that is all part of the normal rodeo culture and, unlike the animals, the participants signed up voluntarily with a chance of financial gain.
It is only through generous donations from supporters like you that we are able to attend and monitor these events. Please make a donation if you wish to support our work.
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