500 Dead Horses Discovered in a Dry Creek Bed in Australia, Probe Launched

Authorities in rural Australia have opened an investigation into horse slaughter after 500 dead animals were found on private property. New South Wales (NSW) police and other state agencies are investigating the find in Wagga Wagga, where some horse carcasses were skeletal while some had died only recently.

The general manager of the local council, Peter Thompson, said investigators’ initial focus was environmental. However, upon inspecting the property, more bodies were found, and authorities began “collecting evidence for possible offenses and regulatory actions.”

Council officials initially attended the property after receiving a call alerting them to the unlawful slaughter of horses allegedly taking place there. The caller told authorities that horse carcasses were dumped in a dry creek, and there could be hundreds of them.

Representatives of Wagga Wagga City Council attended the scene, with support from New South Wales police and other law enforcement agencies, who quickly found that horse slaughter had been occurring for a significant period of time.

Officials did not provide details about who owns the property or what offenses they are investigating. However, a spokesperson said the New South Wales Food Authority, Local Land Services, the Department of Primary Industries, and Racing New South Wales had all attended the scene and were helping police with inquiries.

Slaughtering horses is legal in Australia but is subject to national and state standards and regulations. Recent scandals regarding the treatment of animals have plagued the country, however, and it has faced criticism over the fate of its retired racehorses. In 2023, an expose by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) showing horses slaughtered after racing shocked the nation, and some commentators described it as a stain on Australia’s reputation.

Dr. Bidda Jones of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) told reporters that the Australian public rarely expresses such anger about animal welfare as it did following the ABC report. Dr. Jones said she hoped it would serve as a tipping point.