5 July 2021

Locals claim Snowy Mountains construction causing terrible destruction

| Edwina Mason
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Photographer Michelle Brown says Snowy 2.0’s construction is causing significant damage. Photo: Facebook.

WARNING: Some images in this story may be confronting to readers.

Having clocked hundreds of kilometres trekking the Snowy Mountains, Michelle Brown is bewildered brumby critics can justify their arguments as Snowy 2.0 decimates the very land they’re trying to save.

“I’m seeing pristine tracts of land turned inside out as the construction continues” she said.

“Yet we have the Federal Environment Minister and conservation groups weighing in on the brumbies and their impact on the park.”

The contradiction leaves Michelle seething.

“Bullocks Hill, for example, was the only place we would see the lyrebird,” Michelle explained.

“Now the whole area has or is being dug up and developed.”

Vast tracts of land are being developed. Photo: Facebook.

She claimed Old Gooandra Trail near Kiandra was once overgrown and populated by kilometres of frog populations before Snowy 2.0 began widening the trail for heavy machinery.

“Then, all of a sudden, the huge frog populations were no longer in that part of the national park,” she said.

“That’s not to say there aren’t frog populations elsewhere – they are prolific – but Snowy 2.0 is destroying healthy habitats all over the national park and it’s very sad to watch”.

Michelle and her husband Ian have followed brumby tracks into Kosciuszko National Park for years, photographing the wilderness pre-drought, pre-fire and post fire.

Their journeys are documented on the Facebook page Snowy Brumby Photography Adventures with Michelle and Ian.

“We always visit the northern end of KNP to areas such as Kiandra, Long Plain, Tantangara, Peppercorn and all places in between,” she said,

READ ALSO Broulee community furious about lack of consultation over land clearing for development

By their reckoning, 3000 brumbies “at the most” populated these areas before the 2019-2020 fires.

“Two weeks after the fires we began our search for horses and believe me, we found many mobs burnt to a crisp,” Michelle said.

“To give you an example of the heat – we also found dead yabbies, boiled orange along the banks of streams and creeks,” she said.

Michelle and Ian brown documented post fire destruction. Photo: Facebook.

An estimated 500 brumbies perished and many remain unaccounted for such as the striking white stallion “Paleface”.

“In the past 29 months we’ve been told by ‘experts’ there are 25,000, then 19,000 and now 14,000 brumbies up there,” she said.

“But the people who are actually in the mountains will tell you the numbers are much, much lower.”

Snowy 2.0 aside, she asks at what point are catastrophic numbers of other destructive animals in national park addressed.

Michelle says pigs run rampant up in Kosciusko, deer populate the north and rabbits are literally in their millions.

NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service can’t give exact figures but can tell you how many they’ve killed.

Last year, using aerial culls, more than 2000 pest animals including pigs, deer and goats were removed from KNP and nearby parks.

Professor Jamie Pittock at ANU’s Fenner School of Environment and Society, says it’s easier to determine numbers of feral horses in KNP than other feral animals because they’re big, in the open and not controlled.

“By contrast, other feral beasts are smaller, live in the forests and are regularly controlled by NPWS, so they’re harder to count,” he said.

He said opponents of feral horse control often describe deer as the bigger threat but, in areas where horses are abundant, recent evidence demonstrates this isn’t the case.

Feral pigs also cause huge damage. Photo: Facebook.

“Data from more than 100 plots in treeless drainage lines across the alpine parks show deer and pigs made no substantive contribution to the horse-related damage that was measured,” he said.

Similarly, research in northern Kosciuszko National Park found no evidence of deer dung, and pig dung was found at only five plots.

Researchers studying vegetation and bogs, frogs, fish, reptiles and small mammals all showed that feral horses were the sole or major cause of environmental damage.

Deer and pigs are major alpine pests, but aerial and ground shooting, baiting and trapping limit population expansion.

“In contrast, these effective controls aren’t applied to feral horses and the population is expanding. As for Snowy 2.0, the project is having the environmental impacts it was approved to inflict on KNP,” Professor Pittock said.

But Michelle says her photos don’t lie.

“We don’t get paid to do what we do, we do it for the love, for the experiences and we enjoy sharing truths with the world,” she says.

“Politicians visit the park once, gush about how terrible the brumbies are, but it seems to me they turn a blind eye when big dollars are involved and get on a soapbox when they need an audience.”

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if only they could back all this info up with actual sources

Kate Gration6:53 am 26 Dec 21

Taking brumbies from the mountains will only increase the risk of bushfires.

tracy morris11:31 am 11 Aug 21

this is so wrong. they do this for money so they can line their pockets. what about the lives of the animals

Claire Carter5:38 pm 05 Jul 21

Yes, this project is causing such an enormous amount of damage to areas of the national park, but this should never preclude us from addressing the damage caused by feral horses. These are two separate issues that cannot be compared, nor used for distraction, and they both need to be addressed separately and urgently.

Martine Thompson7:30 pm 06 Jul 21

The brumbies aren’t the problem, go there and see the damage the feral pigs are doing

Barbara Hollis3:06 pm 04 Jul 21

humans and pugs n deer are destroying our high country NOT the brumbys

Cathy Porter10:45 pm 03 Jul 21

In my opinion the Brumby damage & numbers are much lower than the politions & Brumby Haters would have you believe. There are quite a few extremely good photographers that traipse many many miles to get their photos (& for the love of the mountains & everything in them) and yet politions do a quick roadside walk or 5 min fly over & claim to see 14000. One polition in particular said she felt them move under her? Doing a flyover? I believe the people that live & breathe our Mountains.

Its disgraceful the way the horses have been described as feral and their numbers are in the 1000’s. Yes they are targeted due to their size 😪
I’m embarrassed to be aistralian when our Gov’t, and it doesn’t matter who is in power, cant see the truth.
Stop the BS and concentrate on the real deals, pigs, dear and politicians!

Absolutely unbelievable all so called experts turn a blind eye to the real truely feral animals pigs,dear, rabbits Humans and think they see the damage and blaming the Brumbies 👍

Roger Gagliardi2:30 pm 03 Jul 21

Snowy Hydro can do what they like, it’s government owned, but they do have a moral responsibility. There is always some destruction when these projects are undertaken, the main thing is to make sure that proper rehabilitation of the affected areas is part of the works.
As far as the wild brumbies are concerned, they do not kill smaller native animals like the feral cats and dogs do, and there are many thousands of those in the park. The focus needs to be on them, not the horses.

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