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Queensland National Parks grazing deadline arrives

Kathleen Calderwood, Tuesday April 8, 2014 - 13:01 EST
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Access to National Parks has been vital for the survival of stock in drought stricken North and Western Queensland. - ABC

Today 8000 cattle are leaving the five National Parks across the state of Queensland, which they've called home for the last six months.

With drought affecting more than 60 per cent of the state, the Government had allowed stock to graze in the parks, providing some much needed feed for the cattle.

Cattle arrived at the National Parks as recently as September, with 14 grazing permits issued.

Many landholders say they want permission to extend the animals' stay in the parks, but to date that has been denied.

Despite efforts by Member for Mt Isa Robbie Katter and affected graziers, the Government has stuck to its guns, deciding not to extend the original deadline of October 31.

Mary Vinney has about 600 head from her property between Prairie and Muttaburra, on Forest Den National Park near Aramac.

She says bringing the cattle home is not an option.

"It's far too dry, there's been no rain since they've been moved there," she says.

"It's just as dry as it can be."

The cattle will be kept in a nearby paddock and walked along the main road near the park until a decision on their future is determined.

"It's really stressful because you don't know where you're going and what you're doing," Ms Vinney says.

"But we were warned and rules are rules... the six months doesn't seem to stretch very long.

"We're fencing another part off on a neighbouring place for water so that we can put them in there for water, in the middle of the day it'll be too hot to do anything too much.

"The cows and calves will be too hot, so we've got to fence off an area there and try and get a few shady trees in the area so that they can rest in the heat of the day.

"They're walking them up and down outside that park area where there's a bit of grass along the fences... I think they're just feeding them out there until they get a definite plan which way to go and where to go."

AgForce cattle board president Howard Smith says other options to feed the stock are being considered.

"It looks like we're going into another summer of dry period," he says.

"So it's fairly critical that there's some measures put in place to help some of these people try and manage the ongoing drought.

"I think hopefully they've looked at a case by case basis and put in some measures that can give these people some options.

"I do know that they have looked at putting cattle into some reserves and moving them from some of those northern national parks down to some of these southern reserves."

He says he'd like to see the national parks looked at again in the new year if the drought continues.

"Depending on the condition of those reserves and parks, whether there is a possibility they could be looked at again as a measure to mitigate the drought," Mr Smith says.

"The thing that is positive is the re-emergence of the live export and some fairly good money there.

"The trouble is a lot of these situations that these cattle aren't suitable for those markets."

A spokesperson from the Queensland Parks and Wildlife service says no extensions have been granted.

But new born calves and their mothers, and pregnant cows, won't be moved until it's safe to do so.

The spokesperson says QPWS staff have been working with graziers for the last three weeks, assisting with mustering, removal and transport of cattle from the national parks.

Graziers have 60 days to remove any of their temporary fences, troughs, pipes and other infrastructure.


© ABC 2014

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