Report sheds light on research station cattle deaths

Beef Central, 05/05/2014

Documents produced under Right to Information legislation have shed further light on the circumstances that led to the deaths of 46 cattle on a Queenslsand Government owned research station last year.

46 heifers died from dehydration at the Swan’s Lagoon Research Station near Ayr in early May 2013, after they had been left in a closed holding paddock without access to water following a muster at the station.

A subsequent police stock squad investigation instigated by Queensland agriculture minister John McVeigh recommended that no charges be laid over the deaths.

Documents accessed under Right to Information legislation and reported by Fairfax media outlet the Brisbane Times late last week have shed more light on the investigation and the stock squad’s reasons for finding that no one should be held criminally responsible for the deaths.

The investigation report said that the incident was caused when a staff member at the station, who’s name was redacted from the report, accidentally locked the cattle in a paddock without access to water.

The staff member closed and chained a gate between two paddocks to prevent the cattle he was mustering from returning, but forgot to tell colleagues.

Injuries to another staff member meant a scheduled water-run was not conducted and the cattle were left without water for 12 days.

Stock and Rural Crime Investigation Squad Detective Sergeant Mark Hogenelst wrote in his investigation report that many of the deceased and surviving cattle showed barbed wire cuts, demonstrating that they had been trying to push through the paddock’s fences to seek water.

Detective Sergeant Hogenelst said the deaths were due to an unfortunate set of circumstances and poor judgement on behalf of two staff members.

“I do not believe that any person has acted maliciously or intentionally to kill these cattle, and as such, not all of the elements for each offence can be satisfied, and I believe no offence has been committed,” he said in his report.

Mr McVeigh said following the completion of the stock squad investigation last year that disciplinary action had been taken against those responsible for negligence and management procedures on the research station had been changed.

The redacted Queensland Police Service report released under RTI legislation can be viewed here



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