IN THE NEWS: On JUN 3, 2019
The Pastoral Lands Board has put WA's 450 pastoral stations under the microscope to assess risk and prevent further animal welfare issues from emerging.
The move comes after three separate incidents on indigenous-run pastoral stations in the Kimberley, Pilbara and Goldfields, where cattle have died or have needed to be destroyed.
The cattle were badly dehydrated or had become stuck in boggy mud at dams after two years of very dry conditions.
The State Government is tight-lipped about numbers but the death toll is believed to have reached about 2000, between Nookanbah in the Kimberley, Kangan Station adjacent to the Yandeyarra reserve in the Pilbara, and more recently at Pinjin in the Goldfields.
Board chairman Tim Shackleton said he had asked the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage and the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development to assess all WA stations to identify if others were at risk of animal welfare issues.
He said the Pastoral Lands Board had approved a methodology, which took into account the amount of rainfall, history and experience of management, and management of stock numbers, especially during times of low rainfall and scarce feed, to identify higher risk properties.
The assessment will be finalised within weeks.
"We know straight up that most pastoral operations will be identified as low-risk, so there will be no need for further action and they won't hear from us," Mr Shackleton said.
"The assessment aims to identify those who we may need to check on and, if necessary, work co-operatively with to ensure further issues are avoided.
"I don't want people to think there's a big list being drawn up in Perth— that's not the case.
"Rather this assessment is about recognising some parts of the pastoral estate have suffered extremely dry conditions and to reach out to those who may be at risk."
Mr Shackleton said he had consulted both the Kimberley Pilbara Cattlemen's Association and the Pastoralists and Graziers Association regarding the assessment. Both bodies had expressed support for the measures to protect livestock.
Separately, Mr Shackleton said the board considered the animal welfare breaches at the pastoral stations to be extremely serious, and had exercised its full powers under the Lands Administration Act, putting in place measures that must be complied with.
With the Kangan and Nookanbah incidents, intervention included ensuring the on-site appointments of experience pastoral management. Other actions included requirements to install additional water points, and maintaining and repairing existing water points.
Dams were fenced off (to avoid cattle getting bogged in mud) and water instead redirected to troughs.
There are limits to the number of cattle per water point and total cattle numbers will be kept at a prescribed level.
Mr Shackleton said the DPLH would continue to monitor the businesses and report back to the Pastoral Lands Board.