Cattle deaths investigated
A historic pastoral lease in northern WA is under animal welfare regulator investigation after hundreds of cattle died from dehydration.
Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development co-ordinated a welfare inspection at Noonkanbah Station, in south central Kimberley, on December 26 and 27 and confirmed the livestock deaths.
The total death figure remains unknown, with early estimates understood to be in the hundreds.
About 85 cattle have been euthanised.
WA Agricultural Minister Alannah MacTiernan confirmed the department’s livestock compliance unit was investigating the matter at the Yungngora Association-controlled pastoral lease.
Aerial and on-ground inspections at Noonkanbah, a sheep and cattle station between Camballin and Fitzroy Crossing, found water points were inaccessible or not operational and required urgent repairs.
Yungngora Association is undertaking the urgent infrastructure repair and replacement at a number of key water points.
Yungngora chief executive Christopher Wilkin said the organisation was issued three direction notices by the State Government on December 28, under the Animal Welfare Act.
Mr Wilkin said before the notices were given two contractors had been engaged at Noonkanbah in a bid to rectify the welfare issue.
“(Yungngora) has been working closely with and under advice from the department in a concerted effort to ensure that immediate and long-term sustainable animal welfare is achieved,” he said.
“As these issues are under daily monitoring and investigations are ongoing, the association will make no further comment.”
Recent rainfalls have helped alleviate immediate concerns for the remaining cattle which have survived.
Kimberley Pilbara Cattlemen’s Association chairman David Stoate said an unseasonably late start to the wet season could have caused the cattle deaths.
“The association is dismayed that animal welfare on one particular pastoral lease has been compromised in this way,” he said.
“It is a difficult job to ensure that all livestock in the Kimberley have access to feed and water in a challenging wet season such as we are currently experiencing.
“Pastoralists meet this challenge on a daily basis so it is disappointing that this station has fallen short of their responsibilities.”
Ms MacTiernan called for all pastoralists to be cautious of cattle feed and water supplies to avoid a similar animal welfare dilemma.
“The department’s team showed great dedication working over the Christmas period to respond to this very serious animal welfare issue in a timely manner,” she said.
“All pastoral properties need to be vigilant in ensuring cattle have access to feed and water, especially given the hot conditions and lack of surface water in the north this season.”