18 August 2020

Minister's wild horse recount welcomed by all

| Edwina Mason
Join the conversation
Brumbies grazing in Kosciuszko National Park following bushfire.

Brumbies grazing in Kosciuszko National Park following the 2019-2020 summer bushfires. Photo: Reclaim Kosci.

On Monday, 17 August, the brumbies of Kosciuszko National Park received a turnaround in fortune, but not a reprieve as NSW Minister for Energy and Environment Matt Kean announced there would be a recount of the wild horse population.

The announcement has come after months of protracted, heated debate at ground level between conservationists and pro-brumby groups, and in the upper reaches of NSW politics between Deputy Premier John Barilaro and the environment minister.

It also follows a decision by the NSW Land and Environment Court on 17 July to dismiss an injunction on the removal of the horses from three regions of Kosciuszko National Park that were hit by the past summer’s bushfires.

Around 4000 brumbies are currently being removed from Cooleman Plain, parts of Boggy Plain and Kiandra Plain, and Nungar Plain in Kosciuszko National Park, using passive trapping methods. The first horses were removed in late July.

The brumbies’ removal is part of the statewide emergency recovery plan to protect and restore wildlife populations in the wake of the bushfires.

Numbers are based on the 2019 Feral Horse Aerial Survey conducted by the Australian Alps National Parks Cooperative Management Program (AANPCMP) which revealed the estimated feral horse population had grown in the past five years from approximately 9190 in 2014 to 25,318 in 2019, a 23 per cent increase per annum.

The area surveyed takes into account wild horse populations in alps regions of the ACT, NSW and Victoria.

Mr Barilaro’s repeated calls for a recount of the Kosciuszko National Park wild horse population in the wake of the bushfires and ongoing drought finally found their mark.

NSW Minister for Energy and Environment Matt Kean.

NSW Minister for Energy and Environment Matt Kean. Photo: Supplied.

But it was in the very public arena – as he spoke with Ray Hadley on radio 2GB on Monday, 18 August – that Minister Kean conceded to a recount.

“We’ll do a recount as requested,” he said. “The only reason for any obfuscation was that they do a big count every four years, I think to give the community confidence that what we’re doing is the right thing, but we’ll bring that forward.”

However, Minister Kean said the current culling program would remain in place.

“We’re not doing eradication, we’re doing management and there’s three very sensitive areas of the park – which is about nine per cent of the park – where we want to manage some of the horses out,” he said.

The minister’s comments came minutes after Mr Hadley questioned him about the placement of horse skulls at the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) depot at the southern end of Kosciuzsko National Park. The photos appear to show brumby skulls displayed in trees as some sort of trophy.

Minister Kean told listeners the action is “completely unacceptable”.

“It’s fair to say I felt sick,” he said. “There is no place for harm or cruelty, or gloating about it, for any living being in the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

“If any of the staff want to be involved in that, they can get out.”

Environmental group Reclaim Kosci – an arm of the Invasive Species Council – also joined Minister Kean in condemning the placement of the horse skulls, which are believed to have been placed there by a former NPWS employee.

Horse skulls in trees outside a National Parks and Wildlife Service depot in Kosciuszko National Park.

The placement of horse skulls outside a National Parks and Wildlife Service depot in Kosciuszko National Park has been condemned by Minister Kean. Photo: 2GB.

Reclaim Kosci said it supports the minister’s comments on animal cruelty. The group also said his decision on the recount is a win for Kosciuszko National Park.

“A science-based count that confirms numbers in Kosciuszko National Park while allowing horse removal is welcomed,” said Reclaim Kosci spokesperson Anthony Sharwood.

“Let’s continue with the current post-fires removal of horses, let’s get the recount done, and let’s then put in place a long-term management plan for the horses.”

Mr Sharwood said horse numbers have been increasing at around 20 per cent in Kosciuszko National Park in the past five years.

“Horse numbers are now so high that any delayed action on their management means we’ve got a bigger problem, year after year with more of Kosciuszko’s crystal clear streams turned into mudheaps, and its incredibly rare plants trampled by hard hooves,” he said. “It is becoming increasingly urgent to remove many more horses in other fragile areas of Kosciuszko.

“Even Ray Hadley today stated that, ‘No-one disagrees there should be a cull.’

“That’s why Mr Barilaro should just let NPWS get on with the job.”

Minister Kean’s office was contacted by Region Media to confirm methodology and timelines for the wild horse population recount, but no comment has been forthcoming.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments
Christine Daley5:51 pm 27 Dec 20

The number of horses in the National Park is way over-exaggerated as there was a lot lost in the fires and since then so many have been taken from the park by the consistent trapping and removal which has become cruel and unnecessary. Matt Kean has not had a new count of horses done or stopped the trapping as he said he would Many thousands of people have written to him and he has completely ignored all of them.
The horses are not the cause of damage in the Parks or the bush the number of pigs is far greater than horses and the pigs are the cause of most of the damage. Also, complete mismanagement of the parks for many years has caused damage. The horses have been in the Australian land they are born and bred in the country and are part of the environment they are not feral pest they are Australian born Wild Horses. Horses are roaming Herbivorous which eat the natural grasses and reseed the ground by fertilizing and continual moving not overgrazing any area. Brumbies are living majestic animals and deserve to remain in our country and National parks. The brumbies are part of the environment and heritage and culture of Australia. Taking these horses from the land they have lived in for hundreds of years is a big mistake and absolute cruelty. Leave the brumbies alone and good management should be done with the country people that understand the way of caring for our land.

Alison hudson9:51 pm 26 Dec 20

nooo. disgusting. there cannot be that many left after the fires which annihilated everything. a mare only has 1 foal per annum if it survives,they dont have litters.a proper count must be done now.. not after they are all gone

Garry Woodbridge12:35 pm 26 Dec 20

Its all just furphy bulldust
1/ it won’t be a physical count
2/ it will be an airy fairy scientific count which you could shoot holes through
3/ Matt Kean is a slimy liar accountable to no one
4/ John Barilaro needs to step up to the plate and stand by his proclamation from 2018
5/ there has never been 25000 brumbies nor 19000 brumbies big variation on their own figures
To protect our supposed pristine wilderness all human left/placed rubbish needs to be removed old bottledumps fencing wire corrugated sheet metal.
There needs to be a cull on feral pigs and deer rutting and wallowing the bogs
There should be no further ski runs lifts carparks added
Parks need to control the parks instead of letting them become fire hazards yet again

Christine bourne5:26 pm 24 Aug 20

A humane cull not shooting from the air

Don Fletcher2:29 pm 22 Aug 20

This looks like it was a really stupid beat up. In the photo were skulls (mis-labelled in some accounts as ‘heads’) of kangaroo goat sheep and horse. Skulls found on the ground like these are commonly collected especially by people interested in the variety of animals, like me and probably some of those rangers. It was mighty inappropriate for minister Kean to accuse people of cruelty or gloating.

Helen Grealy10:22 am 20 Aug 20

Why is it that government ministers find it soooooo simple to waste money belonging to the Australian Tax Payer I would like to Bet that Matt Kean Minister for Environment has in he’s life time Not owned or operated a small business because if he had he would know how hard it is to make a wage .No Matt Kean just sits on hes’s bum and waits for he’s wages to be paid into he’s bank account. Than ask for another recount of the wild horses. That Mr Barilaro has demanded it show’s what a bully Barilaro is Plus a fowl mouth . And the Australian people ask why children have no respect.We do not have any Environment Minister in Australia Mother earth screams from fires, River misuse , removal of trees for our beautiful animals .And Kean while he allows Barilaro to bull him our beautiful Kosciuszko become’s more FRAGILE with destroyed streams and Now full of weeds from Horses. Why do we just keep voting in these Trump alike in. And you think of the poor Australian who fought for six years to save this country in the second world war. These fools have destroyed my beautiful country from just sitting on their bums

Daily Digest

Do you like to know what’s happening around your region? Every day the About Regional team packages up our most popular stories and sends them straight to your inbox for free. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.