Meeting a key step to tackle mass cattle deaths

Zach Relph and Carly LadenCountryman
Jack Burton says ‘everyone suffers the consequences’ of the mass cattle deaths.
Camera IconJack Burton says ‘everyone suffers the consequences’ of the mass cattle deaths. Credit: Steve Ferrier

Prominent WA pastoral figures concede there is no silver bullet to address two major animal welfare failings plaguing the State’s north.

Pastoralists and WA Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan convened in Broome last Wednesday to address revelations of hundreds of cattle dying at both the Pilbara’s Yandeyarra Reserve and Noonkanbah Station, in central Kimberley.

The death toll at Mugarinya Community Association’s Yandeyarra continues to rise as the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development investigation remains ongoing, with about 760 cattle euthanised since February.

The DPIRD-led probe into Noonkanbah also found 490 dehydrated livestock had died at the Yungngora Association-controlled station since late December.

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Yeeda Pastoral Company boss Jack Burton said there was no “wonderful outcome”, but the meeting was a crucial step to prevent further animal welfare controversies at pastoral operations.

“I think everyone in the room was sort of happy to be a part of the conversation but the reality is that it’s a tough year, it’s our driest year that we’ve had since 1991 so places are going to have to be managed well,” he said.

“The big thing is that we make sure it doesn’t become an issue about Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal-owned property.

“Everyone suffers the consequences of these mass cattle deaths, so we all need to come together and all be a part of fixing the problem.”

Nyamba Buru Yawuru director Deborah Pigram said it was a complex problem regarding land tenure and management.

However, she noted animal welfare must remain paramount.

“Accountability needs to happen and preventing mass cattle deaths from happening again in this industry is a must,” she said.

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