Pritchard Rodeo rarin' to go

Humane society criticizes steer wrestling as 'nothing to do with agricultural heritage'

The Pritchard Rodeo returns to its traditional grounds this weekend for a 19 thannual event full of daring feats.

But one competition in particular is getting unwelcome attention in the wake of an animal death at the Calgary Stampede this week.

The Vancouver Humane Society has called for the suspension of steer wrestling after a steer had to be euthanized due to a severe neck injury.

The animal could not get up after having its head and neck twisted to force it to the ground as part of the competition.

Vancouver Humane Society spokesman Peter Fricker says animals should not have to suffer and die "just to entertain a crowd."

Fricker said the event should be suspended and reviewed by an independent panel of experts to determine if it could be made humane and safe.

Steer wrestling has no historical connection to ranching and was invented for rodeos, he added.

"It has nothing to do with agricultural heritage. It's just a cruel and dangerous circus act."

The B.C. Rodeo Association, which oversees the Pritchard competition, says no one likes to see animals die.

"Unfortunately incidents happen whether you're driving down the road and hit a moose or a deer. That doesn't prevent people from driving," said association president Trish Kohorst.

"It's unfortunate and it saddens people when that happens."

Calgary Stampede officials and independent livestock specialists say they will review the event video to determine any contributing factors.

Recent rule changes prohibit competitors from continuing to wrestle a steer that has splayed its legs and cannot fall safely.

Stampede officials say that does not appear to have been the case in this situation.

They also say the death of a steer during the event is a rare occurrence, with only one other steer fatality in the last decade.

Meanwhile, the Vancouver Humane Society's disapproval did nothing to dampen the B.C. Rodeo Association's enthusiasm for this year's events lineup.

"We're excited . . . we're hoping it's a great success and we're looking forward to the weekend," said Kohorst.

"It's also on with Valemount this year so there's two places to go to watch some great rodeo action. We welcome the public to come and watch and our members to participate."

Both Pritchard and Valemount rodeos happen Saturday and Sunday starting at 1 p.m. at each community's rodeo grounds.

Pritchard Rodeo admission is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and students and $8 for children. Children five and under attend for free.

A dance is also happening in Pritchard Saturday starting at 9 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance.

The Canoe Mountain Rodeo in Valemount is $20 per day or $25 for the weekend for adults, $15 per day of $25 for the weekend for seniors and students and free for children 10 and under.

A Saturday evening dance is $10 per ticket with a live performance by Kamloops band Serious Dog.

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