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U of C study examines handling of bulls at Stampede

Last Updated Jul 8, 2019 at 4:16 pm MDT

(PHOTO: Tom Ross - 660 NEWS)

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – Can improvements be made to the handling practices of the bucking bulls?

That’s the question the Stampede is asking University of Calgary researchers and students from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine to figure out.

The group has set up on the Stampede grounds and will be observing the bulls over the entirety of the 2019 Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.

“What we really do is we spend the day following the animals about and seeing what they do in terms of interacting with one another,” explained Ed Pajor, head researcher and chair of animal care and welfare at the U of C.

“What we are really interested in is potential sources where animals might be injured. For example, animals, when they are transported, getting on and off a truck, can lead to injuries, just the movement, when they are in these pens, do they settle down, do they relax or are they up and agitated and maybe being aggressive with one another,” said Pajor.

“When they are moved to the loading chutes, how are they handled, what kind of interactions do they have with their handlers. When they’re in the loading chutes, do they run into any of the gates, when they go to the bucking chutes the same kind of observations are being done, and then we look at them after the event as well to see if there any injuries.”

The researchers have cameras set up on some of the pens, and then they also mark down the behaviour of the bulls throughout the day.

Pajor feels the work being done is very important as it will ensure the animals get the best care possible.

When it comes to those who think animals shouldn’t be used for entertainment purposes, like the rodeo, Pajor says he understands their opinion, but he also points out the research helps identify all the facts.

“I think it is really important to see those perspectives as very legitimate. I think caring about how animals are used is really quite important,” said Pajor. “My view is no matter what we use animals for, whether it’s for an event like this, whether it’s for food, whether it’s for research, whether it’s for companionship, we have a responsibility to make sure the animals are treated as humanely as possible.

“We need to have information about what that means; we have to have some data to fill in the conversation.”

Pajor says Calgary is one of the few places in the world that is actually doing welfare research on rodeo animals and thinks other cities should follow suit.

Once the Stampede wraps up, the research group will gather all the information and present the findings and suggest possible changes if they are needed.