12 October 2021

9000 wild brumbies to be culled from Kosciuszko National Park under proposed management plan

| James Coleman
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Wild brumbies at Currango Plain in Kosciuszko National Park

Wild brumbies at Currango Plain in Kosciuszko National Park. Photo: Supplied.

The number of wild horses in Kosciuszko National Park would be slashed under a new proposed plan to manage their population and the impact they have on the region’s alpine wilderness – but don’t expect any aerial shooting.

The Kosciuszko National Park Wild Horse Heritage Management Plan proposes to remove or cull about 9000 wild horses, or brumbies, during the course of six years.

The latest government figures put the estimated number of brumbies in Kosciuszko National Park at 14,380, which experts say is far too many heavy hooves for the sensitive alpine ecosystem.

The scientific evidence is that the current numbers are causing severe damage faster than it can be naturally repaired but the brumbies’ place in the high country is a contentious issue, with advocates arguing the numbers are inflated and removal is not necessarily the answer.

READ ALSO Tallong residents coordinate rescue of brumbies and call for government incentives

Impacts include trampling the fragile subalpine ecosystem, eroding waterways and destroying key habitat for threatened species such as the northern corroboree frog and stocky galaxias fish.

Such is the negative environmental impact, wild horses have been formally recognised as a Key Threatening Process according to the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016.

Wild brumbies at Currango Plains in Kosciuszko National Park

Wild brumbies as seen from the air in Kosciuszko National Park. Photo: Supplied.

In response, the new draft management plan allows for a “sustainable wild horse population” of 3000 to remain in 32 per cent of the park by 30 June, 2027. The 47 per cent of the park that is already free of brumbies would be kept that way.

The NSW Government’s last draft strategy, in 2016, called for the population of feral horses in Kosciuszko National Park to be reduced by 90 per cent over 20 years. But this was opposed by then NSW Nationals leader John Barilaro and was never implemented.

Instead, he introduced the Kosciuszko Wild Horse Heritage Act in 2018 – the first law to protect an introduced species in a national park to the detriment of native species.

NSW Minister for the Environment Matt Kean says the draft plan is trying to strike a balance between protecting the park’s environment and recognising the cultural heritage value of wild horses.

Another law rules out the aerial culling of horses in NSW national parks.

This was put in place in October 2020, following drought, when a widespread cull of the largely starving brumby population garnered national media attention, and public consensus quickly turned against shooting horses from helicopters.

Kosciuszko National Park

The Kosciuszko National Park alpine ecosystem is being destroyed by wild horses faster than it can naturally repair itself. Photo: Mike Bremers.

Conservation groups still maintain that aerial culling is the only practical method for quick, large-scale and humane culling of large animals in inaccessible locations.

The RSPCA also supports professionally managed aerial culling of feral horses in Kosciuszko National Park, saying that trapping and transporting horses for slaughter causes more suffering than a bullet.

According to the new management plan, culling measures would include a mix of aerial mustering, trapping and ground shooting.

Removing wild horses from alpine areas of Kosciusko National Park has been an ongoing task since 2002. Kosciuszko land managers first identified the need to control the increasing brumby herds in the late 1990s when their numbers were estimated at 2000.

The term ‘brumby’ is attributed to Sergeant James Brumby, who left his horses to run free on his land in NSW when he was transferred to Tasmania in the 1830s.

READ ALSO The irony of the brumby and Snowy 2.0 sharing the same backyard

Across eastern Australia, wild horse numbers have increased massively since then, and Australia now has the largest population of wild horses in the world, with more than 300,000.

Minister Kean said he recognises there are very strong and diverse views on this issue.

“But at the heart of these views is a common desire to sustainably manage the park for the future,” he said.

The draft Kosciuszko National Park Wild Horse Heritage Management Plan is now available for community feedback until 2 November, 2021, and can be viewed here.

Minister Kean will consider the draft plan, along with any submissions and advice, before making any necessary changes and deciding whether to adopt the plan under the Kosciuszko Wild Horse Heritage Act 2018.

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I think the wild pigs,and four wheel drive vehicles are doing more damage to the park, horses do not damage waterways, or destroy environments, they fertilise environments. That’s why we use the manure for gardens etc. BUT the do Gooders, want to blame the horses, I am all for saving our planet, but all these so called environmentalists and scientists, seem to think we must believe what they say. I have been involved with horses since I was born, and none of our land or waterways, have ever been damaged by horses. In fact we had the best looking paddocks, because of the horses. But you all listen to these so called experts, that have never been involved with land or animals.same as saying we need renewables for power, when these solar panels and wind turbines wear out, where are they going to put them, in the ground of course, so we will be living on a toxic dump. When the most sensible solution, would be build more dams, we are the driest continent on earth, it would serve two purposes more water, and hydrogen power, but what would we older folks know, we didn’t bring in all this technology, we lived to provide for our environment, not destroy it, and we don’t want to be living on a toxic dump. Leave the horses where they are, they will never destroy the environment, but all you fools will. Maybe you should look at a sight called help Alberta Wildies, it’s in Canada, and the horses over there are doing fine, and they have proven they do not destroy the environment, but improve it. But the quad bikes etc over there are doing the damage. The only trouble the horses have over there are the bears etc, that kill them. Please do not, cull the horses, they are good for the environment. Let’s keep our country clean and stop listening to these so called experts, as they have no legs to stand, only the fact that you think they are experts.

Jennie Rawlings12:32 pm 02 Dec 21

Save the brumbies – disgraceful what is happening to these poor animals
Australia is a big country can’t they be transported to another area of the wild where they can have freedom
Surely the cost to transport to knackery would be same as cost of transport to wild
Let our horses live
Many Australians would donate to save them

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