PETA says Queensland farmers, hit by drought and bushfires, should be prosecuted if their animals die of starvation or thirst.
PETA says it has received reports of cattle dying long and painful deaths from a lack of water and food in the state's northern Gulf country.
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The region has had very little rain, and bushfires in November and December have affected more than 1.2 million hectares in the Gulf country, disrupting business on 22 grazing properties.
Nine properties had lost all their grazing land and earlier this month Etheridge Shire mayor Will Attwood said farmers were watching their cattle die from a lack of food.
PETA said it had written to Biosecurity Queensland, seeking the investigation and prosecution of farmers who had failed in their duty of care.
The letter notes that failing to take all reasonable steps to ensure animals have appropriate food and water, and are treated for disease and injury, is a violation of the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001.
"In a drought-prone area, there is simply no excuse for businesses being unprepared to supply appropriate water and food for the animals in their care," PETA director Jason Baker said in a statement.
"The recent bush fires and lack of rain are not unexpected occurrences in this region.
"Therefore, reasonable measures should have been in place to ensure that resources were stockpiled so that animals would not suffer during these times."
Comment is being sought from the two councils, and farming groups.
The Queensland and federal government this month activated disaster relief funding for the Etheridge Shire Council and Tablelands Regional Council areas.
The arrangements will help with recovery costs and include concessional loans and freight subsidies for primary producers.
Mr Attwood said affected farmers had been devastated by the double whammy of no rain in November and December, and a series of fires caused by lightning strikes.
"I don't think they (PETA) have a real grasp of reality," he said.
"It's just not possible to do what they are suggesting. One of these properties alone has got 50,000 cattle on it."
He said hay could not be stockpiled on the off chance of bushfires, because it would rot and attract disease-carrying vermin.
"If you put that out, all it will do is spread disease to the cattle."
Mr Attwood said farmers were desperately trying to save their animals, and were using the concessional loans to buy fodder.
Donations had also been used to buy in food, and that was now being distributed.
"At this stage, they are getting by as best they can with the fodder that's been sent to them," Mr Attwood said.
"But we think there are some that are still in quite a lot of trouble."
Mr Attwood said he would be helping affected farmers make a case in coming days for special assistance grants, rather than cheap loans.
"Our graziers manage huge tracts of land with huge numbers of cattle and they do it really, really well. But every now and again nature is really against them."