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The RSPCA has welcomed the Department of Agriculture’s decision to listen to the evidence and extend the prohibited period for live sheep exports from 1 June to 22 September, incorporating an additional three weeks.

With September being historically one of the hottest and most dangerous months for sheep to be exported to the Middle East, this is an important step forward in protecting the welfare of Australian animals. However, the RSPCA still holds high concerns for the continuation of October trading.

“This is an important step forward by the regulator, in acknowledging the scientific evidence that sheep are at high risk of heat stress during September journeys to the Middle East,” RSPCA Senior Policy Officer, Dr Jed Goodfellow said.

“In fact, exports to the Middle East during September and October are arguably more dangerous than those occurring at the start of the northern summer period, as Australian sheep are more acclimatised to cooler temperatures, having just experienced four months of cold and cool conditions,

“The science has shown that live sheep exported into the northern summer, at any time during the hottest period from May to October, are at very high risk of suffering from heat stress, which can be fatal. This week’s decision is another step towards ensuring that Australian sheep are protected from searing conditions on board these ships.”

The announcement comes after the Department of Agriculture sought public submissions on the future of September and October sheep exports to the Middle East where almost 7,000 concerned Australians joined the RSPCA in its submission and called for October to be included.

The extension of the prohibited period for live sheep exports to 22 September is in place for 2019 only, with a Regulation Impact Statement and the final report of the Heat Stress Risk Assessment review to follow and inform the future regulation of the trade.

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