A criminal case against a rodeo cowboy is nothing more than a publicity stunt, New Zealand Rodeo has said.
Criminal charges have been filed by the New Zealand Animal Law Association after a cowboy used an electric shocker on calves and cattle.
The Ministry for Primary Industries investigated the incident and issued a formal warning.
In a statement, the animal law association said it's brought a private prosecution for what it sees as an individual breaching the rodeo's own code.
Disciplinary action should have been taken by the Rodeo Cowboys Association against the defendant and the animal law association wants to have the defendant banned from participating in further rodeo events.
"The investigation showed that the defendant was the only person using an electric shocker at the events. He was asked several times to stop by other rodeo cowboys who saw him shocking the calves unnecessarily."
"It is important that rodeo cowboys maintain a high level of care towards the animals and protect them from unnecessary abuse and ill-treatment."
But the president of the New Zealand Rodeo Lyal Cocks has called it a "publicity stunt".
"The incident occurred over 20 months ago, and it was thoroughly investigated by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). In June 2017, MPI issued a formal warning to the individual involved saying that prosecution was not warranted.
"Now, 17 months later, this animal activist organisation decides to take a private prosecution. Why this incredible time delay?
"One can surmise because the organisation is clearly anti-rodeo, and it's the start of the new rodeo season."
The animal law association said in its statement that "it is not an anti-rodeo prosecution."