9 April 2021

NSW must come to the table on wild horses, says ACT Government

| Edwina Mason
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Wild horses on open plain

There are calls for the NSW Government to produce a consistent wild horse management plan. Photo: Supplied.

Pressure is mounting for the NSW Government to disclose its updated strategy for management of wild horse populations across alpine regions of NSW.

The matter has been roused from its Christmas sleep by the ACT Government and conservation groups after Parks Victoria released the draft Feral Horse Action Plan 2021 on 26 March, to address feral horse impacts and protect the Alpine National Park.

They’re now calling for a zero-tolerance policy, with anything less enacted by NSW considered to have cross-border implications.

ACT Minister for Planning and Land Management Mick Gentleman said the NSW Government must come to the table with a stronger consistent management plan.

“It’s becoming more difficult to keep feral horses out of the ACT’s parks as NSW populations grow – the last count found 14,000 horses across the border in Kosciusko,” he said.

Invasive Species Council CEO Andrew Cox said the Victorian Government’s plans to use all possible humane methods to limit feral horses were in stark contrast to the NSW Government, “which is failing dismally to stop the spread of feral horses on their side of the border”.

Citing a Frontier Economics report, Mr Cox said inaction could impose further environmental, economic and social costs across the border in Victoria and the ACT.

Victoria’s draft Feral Horse Action Plan 2021 sets out the proposed approach to improve management and reduce damage to vulnerable natural and cultural values of the Victorian Alps.

The 54-page document is a revision of the state’s 2018-2021 Feral Horse Strategic Action Plan, driven by continued wild horse impacts on native alpine wildlife and habitats, extensive habitat loss from the Black Summer bushfires, and the limited progress to date of current management methods.

The draft plan outlines the preferred methods of managing feral horses, including trapping and rehoming, tightly managed shooting, and exclusion fencing.

Wild horses in open plain

Victoria’s draft action plan follows the ACT Government’s no-tolerance feral horse policy. Photo: Supplied.

A key measure is eradication of the estimated 100-strong Bogong-Cobungra wild horse population which, in 2020, saw protesters gather in the high-country to prevent a shooting cull of the mob by Parks Victoria, an issue that ricocheted straight into the Supreme Court of Victoria.

Ground shooting is considered “the most humane, safe and effective method available and is an acceptable technique”. In extraordinary circumstances, aerial shooting is another option.

Parks Victoria says many aspects of the management approach, which is open for public comment until Friday, 23 April, are consistent with previous plans.

These include the need to control wild horses in the national park, major impacts on the natural environment, legislative and moral obligations to undertake this work, and the available range of control methods.

In welcoming Victoria’s new draft plan, Mr Gentleman said strong horse management policies are essential to protect sensitive alpine ecosystems.

“Feral horses are one of the largest causes of environmental degradation in Australia’s alpine parks,” he said. “Alpine wetlands filter the water that flows into our drinking catchments, and increasing feral horse numbers risks severely damaging these sensitive areas.”

Mr Gentleman said Namadgi’s high-country bogs and associated fens were added to the ACT’s threatened ecological communities list in 2020, based on advice from the ACT Scientific Committee.

Ginini Flats Wetlands Complex in Namadgi National Park

The internationally significant Ginini Flats Wetlands Complex is the largest intact sphagnum bog in the Australian Alps. Photo: Supplied.

“Victoria’s new plan will give their ecologists and parks staff more options to effectively manage horse populations within their borders,” he said

“While it’s positive the NSW Minister for the Environment has promised to reduce these numbers, we need swift action beyond ineffective trapping and rehoming methods.”

ACT Minister for the Environment Rebecca Vassarotti said the environment doesn’t recognise state boundaries, meaning a consistent joint approach is the only way to protect the ACT environment from pests.

“It’s now time for the NSW Government to stop protecting destructive feral horses at the expense of our environment and unique biodiversity,” she said.

Mr Cox said the newly proposed Victorian measures provide a sensible and balanced approach to reducing feral horse numbers in the Australian Alps.

He said the draft action plan follows in the footsteps of the ACT Government’s strong no-tolerance policy but leaves NSW, which is still operating under a 2008 management plan, in the dark ages.

“Both the Victorian and ACT governments have been forced to revise their horse management plans to deal with an escalation in feral horse numbers caused by inadequate control measures across the Australian Alps,” said Mr Cox.

“All three state governments – Victoria, NSW and the ACT – share management of the Australian Alps so NSW needs to stop dragging its feet on feral horse management and release its own updated horse management plan, which was promised more than a year ago, to the public.”

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Absolutely agree with the ACT Government’s zero tolerance. These feral pests must be eradicated from the Australian alpine. They are basically nothing more than funny looking pigs. Aerial shooting seems to be the more humane method then 1080. The heritage argument is a joke… if your “heritage” identifies with these pests you a probably a bogan like John Barilaro.

The lies, mis information and pure bias is a disgrace to all Australians. The so called now 14,000 Brumbies is an out right lie. (Lucky if there was 3000 Brumbies before the fires and yes photos don’t lie many Brumbies perished in the fires) The damage to KNP is caused by many factors ( human infrastructure, 4WD enthusiasts, pigs, deer, dogs and cats).Again photos don’t lie apart from the ones taken blaming the Brumbies for what is pig damage. Mis information from paid groups. Why is there so much corruption? Yet the above list rarely get a mention- why is this? What deals have been done? A balance can be found to suit everyone. Why isn’t this balance being sort? Instead pure bias against part of our history, heritage and tourist attraction. Listen to the locals and stop the politics.

Stephanie O'Bryan12:22 pm 09 Jun 21

Stop the slaughter they don’t cause the damage they are being blamed for and only dig because of us and the baits

Stephanie O'Bryan12:16 pm 09 Jun 21


Talk about dark ages..the methods the governmentwish to use, and the rubbish you help spread, is in itself trapped in the dark ages.

Christine Daley3:36 pm 27 Apr 21

A good management plan should be done after a new current count of the actual number of horses. The 14,000 is a lie and never has been that many.
The Locals say about 2,000 is closer to the actual number of horses in 700,000 hectares of land. The Brumbies are our Heritage and Culture and should not be classed as feral. These horses are actually part of the environment they are not destroying anything in fact they are an advantage to have as they have been in the mountains for hundreds of years and contribute to the regrowth of natural grass and do not harm the wildlife or the streams, the Brumbies are important and very much admired by the people. Brumbies are not the problem some group has made up about them.
National parks are very badly managed and should concentrate on the real pests like Pigs Deer Rabbits etc as there are so many of them far more than any horses. Stop blaming the brumbies.
The Australian public will NOT accept any shooting aerial or ground shooting by this government or any others.
The brumbies can be managed humanely by the Horse people, not NPWS. Enough of the trapping and removal has been done this year please NO more.
Matt Kean has to listen to us people and get the management plan done and stop taking any more of our brumbies away.

Leisa Caldwell6:25 pm 14 Apr 21

No Heritage Value?? Ross McKinney you certainly have a short memory! It wasn’t that long ago that you were the Snowy Shire Council General Manager and trying to convince the NSW Government that the brumbies were a significant cultural ICON and a legend to the Snowy Mountains and Australia. (your words) Did you not believe your own words?

“Wild horses are an important cultural icon in the Snowy Mountains” was one of your bylines in your project proposal. Now you say they have no heritage value? Hypocrisy much??

I think you even called them ‘Living Legends’ while you tried to lobby for support for your project. Sadly the Labor/Green Government of the time were not interested in your project which was not the fault of the community who did in fact support it. The chip on your shoulder is unbecoming.

This is a load of rubbish.
The only damage being done here is man made and pigs and dear.
The brumbies are a benefit to the ecosystems and no one wants to see our national parks damaged but its NOT the brumbies doing the damage. If there were a treat to flora and fauna why is it not extinct already as the brumbies have been there for hundreds of years.
The fabricated 14000 brumbies? There is lucky to be 2500. Seriously the truth needs to said because these poor horses will become extinct and once the government and parks realise they are a benefit it will be to late, once they are taken from the park there’s no going back.
I don’t understand how many heartless people there are wanting them culled. Imagine someone culling your family? You think thats different because these are animals ? Its not different at all, these live in families and have feelings, unless you have been around horses or taken the time you will never understand how amazing they really are. Just leave them alone. Yes manage them, there are other ways without killing them which is a typical disgusting human suggestion.

Lynne MILLER6:00 pm 14 Apr 21

I think it is very unAustralian to be so focused on the eradication of the descendants of the horses that helped build this country into the great nation that it has become. Ancestors of our Brumbies carried our Soldiers into many battles on foreign soil, they are recognized for service to their country … Australia. So how can the descendants of these horses be considered “feral”?
Please reconsider your plans to exterminate, eradicate, cull our beautiful Heritage horses, we owe them so much.

what about the pigs, of in your mind that the horses are the problem you are wrong, it’s the wild pigs that are doing the damage and hunting and eating small mammals included in our wild life, have you considered for one moment the horses went to war and where shot on the beaches because the riders could not afford to bring them home, they carried the australian digger throughout the war, these so called Wild horses are descendents of those whalers, have you ever been close to a horse, feel his strength, how proud, elegant they are, but you no doubt go to to the races sit in your corporate box and place money on who is going to win, do you bother to go down to the bird cage and really take a long look at these magnificent animals,

Leave the real brumbies alone! If ACT has a zero tolerance then change the name of the rugby team – you don’t get to use their name and then eradicate them! Check out the Rewilding Europe program where wild horses and cattle are being Reintroduced to forests to bring enhance biodiversity of ecosystems and reduce wild fires. Wake up Australia, we need our brumbies. They are part of our history and our key part of our future!

Christine Daley3:34 pm 14 Apr 21

Who are these Invasive Species Council? What right or knowledge do they have to defame our Australian Brumbies like this. The Brumbies are not Invasive or pests and they are not the cause of all this so called damage. How dare they tell such lies and have such a heartless killing plans for our Brumbies. The problem with the National Parks is very Bad Management. The horses can be managed humanely by the local horse people leave them alone.Do not shoot our horses they are not the problem.

Richard Barcham2:09 pm 13 Apr 21

Absolutely right…NSW needs to reduce feral livestock numbers sooner rather than later. Enough of the “it’s the deer/pigs/humans” mob. Feral animals do not belong on National Parks, full stop.

All the horses do is eat grass. How can they be described as feral? If the ACT is so keen to not have brumbies then get them to put up a fence, and relocate their brumbies to NSW. Then the only brumbies left will be those fighting over a football!

I fully agree: All three governments – Victoria, NSW and the ACT – share management of the Australian Alps so NSW needs to stop dragging its feet on feral horse management. The Alps are one continuous ecosystem, so if NSW isn’t doing its bit by controlling feral horse numbers, it causes problems in the other jurisdictions. It is time to get on with reducing feral horse numbers in our national parks.

The horses aren’t doing anything to waterways but the 4×4’s certainly are!
There are hardly any brumbies in the Park, have you actually been up there??
The rivers run clear, what do you think you would like in your jurisdiction??

Lloyd Wishart6:56 pm 15 Apr 21

Georgie, I couldn’t agree more with you. They belong in our parks and do minimal damage.

Ross McKinney4:40 pm 10 Apr 21

Excellent. Feral horses must be culled severely in Kosciusko National Park if not eradicated. It is utter nonsense to even suggest that feral horses have any heritage value having been here for such a very short time. Let’s stop playing Barilaro’s, Peter Cochran’s, Alan Lanyon’s & Leisa Caldwell’s silly political games and recognise that the meagre 9% of NSW under protected area management is becoming a more and more important for our native species for which the areas were primarily set aside for. John Barilaro is demonstrating his complete lack of any nature conservation knowledge. He has turned his attention to Koalas referring to the publicly a ‘nothing more than tree rats”.

How long have u been here Ross NOT AS LONG AS THE BRUMBIES and it is a bloody insult to the people who had ancestors open up the area many years ago to say the BRUMBIES have no HERITAGE value maybe u would find Alberta better for your ideals

Lynne Miller9:04 pm 14 Apr 21

Mate. I don’t know how long your family have been on this land but I will educate you on how long horses have been here. They came with the colonization of this great land. They did not choose to come here, they were brought here to pull carts full of food, building supplies, to carry the explorers over the mountains and through the bush and the desert. Without them, my people would still walk this land in laplaps and the settlers would never have colonized my country. So please think of just how much you owe to these great animals and their descendants, who should be treated with the respect that their ancestors earned for them. To be protected and treated as “native” and always considered as a vital part of our Heritage, an integral part of true-blue Australia … Our Bbrumbies

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