Animal welfare charges have been laid against two Aboriginal organisations after the death of hundreds of cattle on two stations in Western Australia.

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) charged Yungngora Association Incorporated and Mugarinya Community Association Incorporated.

It is alleged both associations violated Western Australia’s Animal Welfare Act 2002.

In December 2018, almost 500 cattle died on the Kimberley region’s Noonkanbah Station near Fitzroy Crossing; 85 cattle were euthanised at the property by DPIRD whilst many others died of thirst after getting bogged in dried dams. Yungngora Association Incorporated is the current leaseholder of Noonkanbah Station.

After a two-year animal welfare investigation, DPIRD laid charges against Yungngora Association Incorporated, its former CEO and the station owner for alleged cruelty to animals.

DPIRD were first aware of allegations of animal cruelty on the Station on Christmas Eve, 2018.

“The charges relate to alleged incidents involving cattle which occurred at Noonkanbah Station in December 2018 and the decision follows a comprehensive investigation by compliance officers within DPIRD,” said a DPIRD statement.

A spokesperson for Yungngora Association Incorporated told NIT that due to the matter soon being heard in court they had been advised not to comment.

DPIRD also became aware of allegations of animal cruelty at Yandeyarra Reserve in January 2019 during their investigation of Noonkanbah Station.

In a similar incident, DPIRD euthanised 760 cattle on Yandeyarra Reserve in the Pilbara, south of Port Hedland.

It’s understood this is not the first large cattle death at Yandeyarra Reserve, with 100 cattle allegedly dying in 2012.

The Reserve is run by Yandeyarra Aboriginal Community, which hosts around 400 residents, and is managed by Mugarinya Community Association.

Animal welfare charges were laid against Mugarinya Community Association Incorporated on Monday.

Charges were also laid against eight individuals who were Board Members of the Association at the time of the alleged deaths, according to a statement from DPIRD on Monday.

“The charges relate to alleged incidents involving cattle which occurred at Yandeyarra Reserve in early 2019 and the decision follows a comprehensive investigation by compliance officers within DPIRD,” the statement read.

Parts of the Kimberley and Pilbara experienced harsh dry season conditions between 2018 and 2019, with rainfall significantly below average.

Both matters will be heard in court, with the case against Yungngora Association Incorporated being heard in Broome Magistrates Court on February 8 and Mugarinya Community Association Incorporated’s case heard in the South Hedland Magistrates Court.

Mugarinya Community Association Incorporated and WA Minister for Agriculture and Food Alannah MacTiernan were contacted for comment but did not respond before time of publication.

By Rachael Knowles