2002 rodeo will keep its calf roping

December 22, 2001

The Deseret News (Salt Lake City, UT)

By Brady Snyder

Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Commissioner Steven J. Hatchell said Friday that calf roping will be included in the 2002 Olympic Command Performance Rodeo.

Hatchell made his comments through a spokesman who said that because the Salt Lake Organizing Committee hasn't specifically asked the PRCA to ban calf roping from the rodeo — Feb. 9-11 at the Davis County Fairground — they are proceeding as planned.

That plan includes seven events: bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping, saddle bronc riding, barrel racing, bull riding and calf roping.

"Since we haven't been asked or given an ultimatum our plan is to proceed as scheduled," the spokesman said. "We have a contract for the rodeo and that includes calf roping."

Raymond T. Grant, SLOC's artistic director for the 2002 Cultural Olympiad, sent a letter to Hatchell on Dec. 3 asking him to consider banning calf roping from the rodeo, which will be part of SLOC's Cultural Olympiad.

The letter was penned shortly after Grant and SLOC President Mitt Romney met with a conglomerate of animal rights activists last month in Salt Lake City. After that meeting Romney said he would work to ban calf roping, which activists consider the most offensive rodeo event.

Grant made Romney's appeal in the letter but stopped short of mandating that calf roping be canceled.

"I understand your reasoning in not wanting to attend the meeting we held with the animal rights activists," Grant wrote. "With that said, we now find ourselves in a position of having engaged them and this engagement needs to produce some results. I recognize that that result might very well be the PRCA saying to me what was suggested at the meeting is not acceptable to the PRCA."

And, this Friday the PRCA decided the suggestion wasn't acceptable. The association did say that steps would be taken to ensure animal safety during SLOC's rodeo.

For instance, the PRCA will strictly enforce its "no jerk down" rule during calf roping, which reduces potential for injury to the animal. Also, veterinarians will be on scene to care for rodeo stock.

Moreover, the PRCA isn't opposed to the idea of having an independent observer watch the proceedings to make sure rules governing rodeos are enforced.

PRCA records show that during the 1998 and '99 rodeo seasons, of 27,767 animal events, only 15 injuries were recorded.

Animal rights advocates were displeased with the decision to keep calf roping part of the 2002 Cultural Olympiad.

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

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