The discovery of more than 20 dead horses, and another eight in skeletal condition in a Queensland field has outraged an animal rescue group.
Ex-racehorses are among the 22 scraggy animals found dead amid the bones of other horses in a barren paddock west of Brisbane.
Eight emaciated horses are alive at the property in the Gowrie Mountain area in Toowoomba.
Biosecurity Queensland says inspectors and a vet visited the property and directed the horses’ owner to feed them after complaints were made.
But that just resulted in a bale of “mouldy garden mulch” being dumped in the field, according to founder of Australian Farm Animal Rescue Matters, Marjorie Pagani.
“It’s totally unacceptable,” Ms Pagani said.
“They’re in acres of dirt, we have foster carers ready to help.”
Authorities took more than five days to visit the horses, in which time an animal died, she said.
Ms Pagani said the remaining eight horses are on the brink of death and in need of treatment.
Biosecurity Queensland said it could not make further public comment on the matter while it was under investigation.
Queensland Racing Integrity Commission Ross Barnett said the owner of the horses is not and has not been a licensed racing industry participant.
But race horses were found among the dead.
“Among the deceased and horses in serious condition seven can be identified as ex-racehorses,” Mr Barnett said.
The RSPCA said it referred the matter on to government authorities weeks ago because the charity organisation does not have the resources to deal with large numbers of livestock.
The Queensland government is conducting an independent inquiry into the regulation of abattoirs and other facilities accepting horses for slaughter and the management of former racehorses.
The final inquiry report is due to be handed down at the end of the month.
It came following an ABC report in October last year detailing the treatment of horses at a Queensland abattoir.
On Tuesday opposition racing spokesman John-Paul Langbroek repeated his criticism of the QRIC.
“It is sad and devastating to see reports of Queensland’s second instance of abuse and neglect of ex-racehorses in less than four months,” Mr Langbroek said.
“Labor can no longer deny that their own Queensland Racing Integrity Commission (QRIC) is failing at its core business: to ensure that animals are well cared for before, during and after racing.”