WA horse standstill

28 Aug, 2007 09:00 PM

THE WA horse industry was in limbo this week after an Equine Influenza (EI) outbreak in the eastern states provoked a nation-wide ban on the movement of any horses.

Earlier this week Federal Agriculture Minister Peter McGauran extended the nationwide ban until Friday.

The national standstill will be lifted if the advice of all chief veterinary officers is that it can be done under strict disease control guidelines.

Chief veterinary officers in unaffected states will be able to consider variations to the standstill before this time. Such variations would occur only by agreement.

As of Tuesday there had been no reported cases of EI in WA, but the ban was put in place as a precautionary measure with all race meetings to be held last weekend cancelled. The ban ap-plied to any event involving horses.

Smaller regional race clubs say they could be losing up to $30,000 for every meeting that is cancelled, while the Kalgoorlie-Boulder Racing Club is fearful its lucrative race round, due to kick off on September 9, could be threatened.

Already the $100,000 Coolgar-die Cup, due to be held last week-end, had to be cancelled and uncertainty surrounds the well-known Kalgoorlie carnival, which culminates with the $140,000 Kalgoorlie Cup on September 15.

Kalgoorlie-Boulder Racing Club marketing manager Helen McCormack said no decision could be made until more was known about the WA situation.

The extended ban means yesterday’s Belmont Park mee-ting was cancelled as was today’s Northam Race Club meeting.

Northam Race Club chairman Tony Marwick said for every meeting that was cancelled, the race club would lose $20,000-$30,000.

“That is a lot of money for a small, regional race club to lose each week,” Mr Marwick said.

“There is also a flow-on effect through the industry, as we employ 20 people on a race day and jockeys and track riders are effectively out of a job.”

Agriculture Department animal biosecurity Ashley Mercy said the owners of 15 horses transported from NSW had been contacted to arrange immediate veterinary inspections of the imported animals in light of strong suspicions of EI in NSW.

Dr Mercy said the department was able to trace all horse movements into WA from interstate, with information on where they came from and the property location of where they were going.

He said all imported horses were already routinely subjected to movement restrictions for 100 days after entering the State.

Yesterday the department imposed a 72 hour standstill on the movement of all horses, donkeys and mules within WA as part of a national effort to prevent the spread of EI following a strong suspicion of the virus at five locations in NSW.

Dr Mercy said the whole of WA was subject to the standstill, and no horses, donkeys or mules could be moved from the property where they are currently located.

“There is no evidence to suggest equine influenza is present in this state, but we will be conducting tests on these 15 imported horses to ensure they are not carrying the virus,” Dr Mercy said.



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