Shooting stray cattle won’t help

2007-12-12 00:00

ALLOWING traffic officers to shoot cattle straying on roads will only exacerbate the problem.

This is the feeling of Bruce Mattison, the Howick poundmaster, following comments made by Transport MEC Bheki Cele last week.

Cele observed that cattle and other animals straying on roads cause accidents, and that the law allows traffic officers to shoot such animals. He said the meat would be distributed to people living in “the nearest village”.

But Mattison said the problem of stray animals is prevalent because very few pounds exist in the province.

“The Pound Act states that each town has to have its own pound, but some municipalities have ignored this. For example, there are only three pounds in the whole of southern KwaZulu-Natal. These are Howick, Creighton and uMzimkhulu.”

The municipalities are responsible for the running of the pounds, but can sub-contract a private company to perform this function for them.

Mattison said he also felt that the proposal to distribute meat among people in the nearest village will only encourage people to put cattle on roads so that they can be shot.

This view was supported by Maureen Vida, the spokeswoman for the Pietermaritzburg SPCA, who has also raised concerns on the matter.

“Although the SPCA acknowledges the serious problem of animals straying on to roads and applauds Mr Cele for his attempt to reduce the carnage as a result of this, the proposed solution could create major welfare complications,” said Vida.

She went on to say that her organisation is also concerned that traffic officers are not “adequately trained” to kill the animals in a humane manner.

“The legality of [traffic officers] using their service firearms for this purpose should surely be questioned … As an animal welfare organisation, we totally reject this proposal,” she added.

Responding to questions from The Witness, the KZN Transport Department gave the assurance that the destruction of the stray animals “will not be indiscriminate but within the bounds of reason and lawfulness”.

KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural Union spokesman Robin Barnsley said the problem of cattle straying on roads is a “huge problem”, especially in the rural areas. “Any measures to deal with this are therefore to be welcomed,” he said.

Barnsley, however, felt the root causes need to be looked at if the problem is to be addressed at all.

“For example, fencing along national roads is in a state of disrepair,” he said.

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