‘Dozens’ more stations at risk of mass cattle deaths

Jakeb WaddellCountryman
Zach RelphCountryman
Kimberley Pilbara Cattlemens’ Association chairman David Stoate and WA Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan in Broome last week.
Camera IconKimberley Pilbara Cattlemens’ Association chairman David Stoate and WA Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan in Broome last week. Credit: Carly Laden / Broome Advertiser

WA Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan says multiple “high-risk” stations are under the live-stock compliance watchdog’s microscope to avoid future catastrophic mass cattle deaths and animal welfare failings.

Ms MacTiernan met key pastoral industry leaders in Broome last Wednesday to thrash out a strategic approach to Aboriginal-operated livestock station management as the State’s north braces for a harsh dry season after a parched wet period.

Mass cattle deaths at the Mugarinya Community Association-managed Yandeyarra Reserve, 100km south of Port Hedland, and the Yungngora Association-controlled Noonkanbah Station, near Fitzroy Crossing, rocked the pastoral industry last month.

Speaking after the roundtable discussion, Ms MacTiernan said “dozens” of pastoral operations in the State’s north had been identified as animal welfare risks leading into the dry season.

She said management structures overseeing multiple Aboriginal-operated pastoral leases could ensure mass livestock death events were not repeated.

“Part of the problem is that you’ve got a CEO that’s often trying to do two roles; being the CEO of a community and being the CEO of a pastoral business,” she said.

“Very often those CEOs don’t have the skills to run a pastoral business.”

Mugarinya Community Association and Yungngora Association came under fire in the wake of the animal death disasters.

About 760 cattle have been euthanised at Yandeyarra since February, while 490 cattle have been confirmed dead at Noonkanbah since December.

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development’s investigation at Yandeyarra is ongoing.

Ms MacTiernan acknowledged the pastoral management was a specialised field and said alternative pastoral business models, including sub-leases or joint ventures were an option.

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