Big crowd for Bullride event

By Zaryd Wilson

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Animal advocacy group SAFE is urging people to boycott this weekend's Parklee Bullride in Hunterville, while organisers say people need to see it for themselves.

The event is not a full rodeo but will feature 17 of New Zealand's top bullriders competing at the Aldworth Rd site in what has been dubbed the "Small Town Smack Down".

SAFE Campaigns officer Abi Izzard said animal welfare agencies throughout the world considered rodeo to be inherently cruel to animals. Two bulls died during events last rodeo season and last year SAFE teamed up with the SPCA and Farmwatch to call for a ban on rodeo with a petition that has so far gathered more than 35,000 signatures.

The group say animals are grabbed, ridden, and wrestled and can sustain injuries such as fractures and bruising and suffer severe stress during rodeos.

"In today's civilised society there really is no excuse for the continued support of rodeo," Ms Izzard said.

"We are encouraging the residents of Hunterville to find alternative forms of entertainment that do not involve innocent animals being harmed."

The organiser of the Parklee Bullride at Hunterville Shane Bird said SAFE was wrong.

"What they're saying is inaccurate. A lot of people have heard what happens in rodeos but have never seen it themselves," he said. "Come along and watch it yourselves and make up your own mind."

He didn't expect the event to be affected by SAFE's comments.

"The people that are against it never would come anyway," he said. "If anyone's inquisitive enough they'll come along and see for themselves."

It's the fourth year the event has been in Hunterville and is on private property. Mr Bird expected between 500 and 700 people to attend.

Auckland Council recently endorsed a 2008 decision by the old council to ban rodeo.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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