Call to jail WA station bosses over cattle deaths

Zach RelphCountryman
Pastoralists say the deaths were avoidable, despite unseasonable dry weather plaguing northern areas.
Camera IconPastoralists say the deaths were avoidable, despite unseasonable dry weather plaguing northern areas.

Fuming pastoralists say jail is the only suitable punishment for bosses overseeing two northern WA livestock operations at the centre of animal welfare probes into hundreds of cattle deaths.

Livestock compliance officers from the State Government are investigating the deaths at Yandeyarra Reserve and Noonkanbah Station, after hundreds of heat-affected animals were discovered.

It is understood more than 650 cattle have been euthanised at the Mugarinya Community Association-managed Yandeyarra, about 100km south of Port Hedland, since the issue was made public last week.

The welfare revelations come after 490 cattle have been confirmed dead at Noonkanbah, a Yungngora Association-controlled pastoral lease in south central Kimberley, since December.

Prominent Pilbara pastoralist Digby Corker said each incident was avoidable, despite unseasonable dry weather plaguing northern pastoral areas.

Mr Corker, of Red Hill Station near Pannawonica, said imprisonment would send a stark warning to station owners and operators that livestock mismanagement would not be tolerated.

“Someone should be prosecuted and it should start with the CEOs who manage these Aboriginalorganisations who control the pastoral leases,” he said.

“They are both horrific cases and I think a jail sentence would not be unreasonable in either circumstance.”

The Animal Welfare Act’s maximum penalty for a director of a body corporate is a $50,000 fine and five years imprisonment. A body corporate can be fined up to $250,000.

Len Snell, who owns Wongawol and Yelma stations east of Wiluna, said prison sentences would set a hefty precedent to underpin cattle wellbeing across the State.

A Mugarinya Community Association spokesman said the group would not comment on the Yandeyarra incident until a meeting with State Government officials was held next Tuesday.

In a statement issued by law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart and Sullivan, the Yungngora Association attributed the “tragic circumstance” at Noonkanbah to the Kimberley’s unseasonable hot conditions.

“Those conditions depleted the availability of water on the station, and affected the accessibility of water, which led to the unfortunate deaths.”

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