RECOGNISING the extreme dry conditions in some areas of the pastoral lands in WA's north, the Pastoral Lands Board (PLB) is reaching out to pastoral stations in an effort to prevent further animal welfare issues, said PLB chairman Tim Shackleton.
"The board has asked the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage (DPLH) to conduct an assessment of WA pastoral stations using a recently approved methodology for determining stations at risk," Mr Shackleton said.
"We anticipate most of WA's 434 pastoral stations will be identified as low risk and there will be no need for further action from the PLB.
"With the assessment we aim to identify those stations who may need a check in from the PLB and the department, if needed we will work co-operatively to ensure further issues are avoided.
"A range of options are being considered to support early intervention and management.
"This may involve direct liaison with the property to support livestock and business management decisions, such as mustering, stockfeed management and water and infrastructure availability."
Mr Shackleton said the PLB has briefed the Pastoralists and Graziers Association and Kimberley Pilbara Cattlemen's Association about the assessment process and both organisations had expressed support for measures which improve the welfare of livestock.
"We will continue to work with the industry throughout this process," he said.
The action being taken came after three Aboriginal pastoral stations suffered cattle deaths and needed assistance from the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD).
Noonkanbah station, in the Kimberley, and Kangan station, adjoining the Yandeyarra Reserve in the Pilbara, lost about 2000 head of cattle through dehydration or neglect.
They were followed a fortnight ago by Pinjin station in the Goldfields - where State Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan has said the losses had been far less.
The number of stock lost was enough to warrant some intervention.
Ms MacTiernan said in State parliament that the cost incurred to date by DPIRD in its response at Yandeyarra was estimated at $549,147 (exclusive of GST).
The cost included pastoral co-ordinator fees, bore works and humane destruction of livestock and excluded DPIRD staff wages and costs.
Ms MacTiernan said $218,453.19, inclusive of GST, had been paid out of the Aboriginal Affairs Planning Authority emergency fund for additional bore works.
"The State will seek recovery of costs for these expenses," Ms MacTiernan said.
The total costs incurred by DPIRD at Noonkanbah station were estimated at $100,000.
"Investigations into the two incidents are continuing," she said.
"I have instructed the department to apply the full resourcing of DPIRD into the investigation."
Kimberley Pilbara Cattlemen's Association chairman David Stoate said the KPCA welcomed "proactive action being taken by the PLB to help identify where there could be future risks of animal welfare and other compliance-related issues".
"This will then enable a more preventative approach being taken by government rather than a reactive approach and allow key government agencies (DPLH and DPIRD) to make better and more systematic use of a range of information already at its disposal to help better inform the PLB and support pastoralists," Mr Stoate said.
"This was something KPCA pointed out to Ms MacTiernan that could be done by government at the Animal Welfare Roundtable in Broome in February."
PGA president Tony Seabrook said it was good to see action being taken because it was the "bad ones that give everyone a bad name".
"There should be one rule for everybody," Mr Seabrook said.
"Cruelty is cruelty, no matter how people try to spin it.
"We should all operate under the same regulations."