Ramping up efforts to end rodeo cruelty

Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur\We Animals Media

With the 2024 rodeo season underway, the VHS continues to campaign for an end to inhumane rodeo events. This includes reaching out to decision-makers at various levels about growing public opposition to rodeo and the harms of roping, wrestling, and bucking events. 

Last year, the VHS shared footage from harmful rodeo events across B.C. and encouraged supporters to reach out to their local decision-makers to ban these events. An opinion piece published in the Daily Hive in November entitled “A stressful and fear-filled glimpse into an animal’s first rodeo” outlined the welfare concerns around rodeo, highlighting recent footage from a steer riding event in Merritt. 

What happened at B.C. rodeos in 2023?

Newly released footage from several B.C. rodeos reveals recurring animal welfare issues, including animals being hit, kicked, and having their tail and ears twisted and pulled.

To date, around 6,000 people have used the VHS’s quick action tool to share footage from recent rodeos with their local city council and to call for a bylaw to prohibit inhumane rodeo events in their community.  

Meanwhile, the VHS is working with concerned Calgarians to call for an end to the controversial rodeo and deadly chuckwagon races at the Calgary Stampede. In May, the VHS launched a new billboard campaign to raise awareness of how animals suffer when used in rodeo events. The billboards will run across Calgary leading up to, during, and after the Calgary Stampede. The billboards have been shared by major Calgary media including CTV News Calgary, Global News, and the Daily Hive.  

The billboards also draw attention to new polling conducted by Research Co., commissioned by the VHS, which found that more than half of Calgarians oppose government funding of rodeo events. The poll also found that more than half of Albertans disagree with the use of animals in steer wrestling (54%), calf roping (51%), and bronc riding (51%). When presented with photos of calf roping, 60% of Albertans and 62% of Calgarians said they would “probably” or “definitely” not watch the event.  

Nationally, more than half of Canadians disagree with the use of animals in the five rodeo events surveyed: steer wrestling (61%), calf roping (60%), bull riding (55%), bronc riding (also 55%) and chuckwagon racing (53%). In terms of the use of taxpayer dollars to fund rodeo events, almost two thirds of Canadians (65%) disagree with the government providing such funding.