• Mass horse deaths uncovered: shocking find at ‘illegal knackery’

    April 22, 2024


    More than 500 horse carcasses have been found at what is believed to be an illegal knackery near Wagga Wagga.

    Local council, NSW Police, and other government agencies called in to investigate the disturbing find.


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    The discovery of more than 500 dead horses has led to an investigation into an alleged illegal knackery operating in NSW’s Riverina region.

    The shocking find was made on March 5 after police and local council received a tip off from a member of the public alleging horses were being slaughtered there.

    Wagga Wagga City Council says it led a joint government investigation into the mass slaughtering.

    “Council was supported by NSW Police in investigating reports that horses had been butchered at the property and their carcasses left in a dry creek bed,” Wagga Wagga Council said in a statement.

    “Initially, the focus of the investigation was to confirm whether the carcasses had been left in the dry creek bed and possible offences under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act.

    “Once the inspection of the property commenced it became clear that the slaughtering of horses had been occurring for a long period of time.”

    Council and police were also assisted by the NSW Food Authority, Local Land Services, the Department of Primary Industries and Racing NSW.

    NSW Police says it is supporting the Council; however, as the investigation continues, no further comment can be made.


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    Former racehorses found in poor condition (image: Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses)

    Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses calls for increased racehorse welfare

    Animal welfare group The Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses (CPR) is again calling for traceability in the racing industry.

    “The 500 horse carcasses reported today to be found at a property in Wagga Wagga NSW are likely to be racehorses,” says Elio Celotto, CPR’s Campaign Director.

    “We recently received a tip from an eyewitness about an illegal knackery at a property in Wagga Wagga, which we believe must be the same property.

    “Racing NSW have banned racehorses from being sent directly to slaughter.

    “However, this is one example of the failure of the racing industry to protect the racehorses they claim they love.”

    “The eyewitness confirmed the majority of the approximately twenty horses kept in holding yards on the property at the time were racehorses.

    Celotto says one third of racehorses are retired from racing every year.

    “That’s 10,000 plus horses looking for new homes and the homes just aren’t out there.

    “It’s no surprise they are being secretly killed en masse in places such as this illegal knackery.

    “This is just the tip of the iceberg.”

    What is the proposed National Horse Traceability Scheme?

    CPR are advocates for the establishment of a National Horse Traceability Scheme.

    “This wouldn’t have happened if we had a national horse traceability scheme that made every horse owner accountable for their horses,” says Celotto.

    National Horse Traceability Register: A Shift in Focus Horse traceability – Frequently asked questions | Horse traceability | Horses | Livestock and animals | Agriculture Victoria
    In 2020, the National Horse Traceability Working Group (Working Group) was set up by the then Agriculture Minister.

    The proposed National Horse Traceability Register (NHTR), initially supported by various stakeholders, including the Australian Government and horse owners, was designed to improve horse welfare, rider safety, and biosecurity.

    However, CPR says it’s shifted to focusing solely on biosecurity, leaving welfare and safety considerations behind.

    “The Victorian and Queensland State Governments were both tasked with co-leading the development of the Register,” CPR says online.

    “Last year the Victorian Labor Government commissioned a report to help guide the Working Group, which interestingly left horse welfare and rider safety out of its Terms of Reference.”

    “With its focus shifted off course towards recommendations for a Register that will focus solely on biosecurity, the current direction for the Register will do nothing to address horse welfare and rider safety.

    “And, as the most recent communications from the Working Group demonstrate, will do little to reduce biosecurity risks.”

    In response to the shift, CPR has produced a report titled ‘The National Horse Traceability Register has lost its way. The report was co-signed by a collective of animal welfare organisations and individuals who have come together to call on key personnel and the public to take urgent and immediate action to ensure the NHTR is redirected back onto its intended course.

    “Our report covers the entire process to date,” CPR says.

    “Highlighting the original intent of the NHTR, and the steps that have occurred since the Inquiry that have led to its current trajectory.”

    Head to the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses’ website to learn more about their campaigns.



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