Despite SLOC Objections, Calf Roping Still Included in Olympic Rodeo

Monday, December 25, 2001

The Associated Press

Olympic organizers promised animal-rights activists they would drop it, but calf roping will remain part of an Olympic rodeo, the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association said.

The association said without "an ultimatum" to drop calf roping it plans to go ahead and show the event. Activists say calf roping is cruel and dangerous to the young animals.

The Olympic Command Performance Rodeo Feb. 9-11 at the Davis County Legacy Center will be part of an Olympic cultural program during Salt lake's Winter Games. The rodeo also will show bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping, saddle bronc riding, barrel racing and bull riding.

The Salt Lake Organizing Committee sent a letter alerting the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association to objections with calf roping, but organizers didn't demand it be dropped.

Activists claim SLOC President Mitt Romney let them down.

"Mitt Romney three times on videotape said we've got to look into canceling calf roping," said Colleen Gardner, campaign manager for the Utah Animal Rights Coalition. "He should stick to what he said."

A spokesman for rodeo commissioner Steven J. Hatchell said the association on Friday decided to keep calf roping part of the rodeo.

Officials said they'd enforce a "no jerk down" rule during calf roping, which reduces the potential for injuries. Veterinarians will be on scene to care for rodeo stock. And independent observers can monitor the even for strict adherence to animal welfare rules.

The observers could watch the use of electronic prods and flank straps on bucking bulls and broncs.

The rodeo association said only 15 animals were injured during its 1998 and 1999 seasons.

Other rodeo detractors include Mechtild Mench of the Initiative Anti-Corrida in Munich, Germany, who likened rodeos to bullfights. Others say rodeo paints a distorted picture of Western tradition.

Steer wrestling, said Steve Hindi of Illinois-based Showing Animals Respect and Kindness, "was never part of ranching life, except maybe as pure entertainment."

Romney has said it would be impossible to cancel the rodeo because "We have signed definitive contracts with all the parties relating to the rodeo."

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