26 May 2020

UPDATED: Victorian brumbies in court as traps are prepared in NSW

| Edwina Mason
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Supreme Court

The virtual hearing will take place in the Supreme Court in Victoria today. Photo: Supplied.

UPDATED, May 26 5 pm: The Victorian Supreme Court has adjourned for the day. Both parties have completed submissions and judgement is expected at 2.15 pm on Friday.

May 26: Today the fate of Victoria’s Alpine Brumbies will be determined in a virtual hearing as Omeo cattleman Phil Maguire faces off with the State of Victoria in the state’s Supreme Court.

For Phil, fresh from the Bogong High Plains after four days on horseback in temperatures well south of zero, the key objective is to have brumbies added to the Alpine Heritage List and managed sustainably and humanely.

For Parks Victoria, today’s decision could greenlight a planned ground shooting cull of the brumbies in the far east of Victoria between the high country town of Benambra and the Snowy River.

The shooting cull was announced on 8 May, the same day the Federal Court delivered its judgement in the case between Parks Victoria and the Australian Brumby Alliance (ABA), ruling in favour of Parks Victoria to allow horse control programs to continue.

These horse management plans include trapping and rehoming programs.

But Parks Victoria regional director for northern Victoria Daniel McLaughlin said the unprecedented scale and impact of the 2019-20 Victorian bushfires required mobilisation across government and the community “to protect what remained and give Victoria’s native plants, animals and ecosystems the best chance of survival”.

“Parks Victoria is authorised by the National Parks Act 1975 to control exotic fauna and to efficiently remove feral horses from high-conservation priority locations,” he added.

“Parks Victoria will also be moving to targeted ground shooting of free-ranging feral horses to control ongoing environmental damage occurring in high conservation value areas in the Victorian Alps.”

As snipers moved into position on the evening of Sunday, 17 May, a last-minute legal intervention by Phil Maguire led to a reprieve for the brumbies due to be shot the following morning.

Through an urgent application to the Victorian Supreme Court, Phil and his wife Louise helped convince the Victorian State Government to refrain from embarking on its shooting program until 1 June.

Depending upon the outcome of the case, he says, the shooting may never happen.

But he’s taking no chances with the historically significant Bogong Brumbies which are few enough in numbers to be able to be mustered and given safe refuge.

At the weekend he and a team of experienced high country riders travelled into the Alpine National Park in an effort to locate the 100-strong Bogong mob and muster them to safety on his nearby property.

He says that a mob of between 25 and 30 brumbies was found and turned towards his home, as reinforcement riders arrive in the high country this week to cast a wider net for the remaining horses.

Today’s court hearing is the only chance for the horses of the eastern Alps.

“The Eastern Alpine Brumbies are more numerous and can only be saved from shooting by court action,” Phil said.

Meanwhile, in NSW, June marks the start to planned trapping, aerial and ground musters of some 4000 brumbies on Cooleman Plain, parts of Boggy and Kiandra Plains and Nungar Plain areas in Kosciuszko National Park. The entire brumby population will be removed from Nungar Plain.

Salt-lick log

Logs are used to house salt licks and molasses blocks to attract brumbies to trapping locations. Picture: Supplied.

This forms part of the NSW Government’s statewide emergency recovery plan to protect and restore wildlife populations in NSW by launching the largest pest management program in its 53-year history, targeting deer, goats, pigs and carnivorous animals.

In the May 2020 Kosciuszko National Park Wild Horse Management Stakeholder Update, the NSW NPWS said the scientific advice was that wild horses would impede the post-fire recovery of vegetation and survival of native wildlife that depend on it, and numbers would have to be lowered to limit grazing and trampling pressures.

But there have been calls for a post-fire recount of brumby populations from advocates who say the numbers of horses cited are exaggerated.

Saltblocks and other molasses licks are being placed in cut logs near these locations to induce brumbies to the sites where self-closing yards will eventually be set up to passively trap the horses for rehoming.

Horses that cannot be rehomed will be euthanased or sent to the knackery, according the NPWS.

NSW Environment minister Matt Kean is presently awaiting advice from the Kosciuszko National Park Wild Horse Community Advisory Panel (CAP) and Wild Horse Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP) on a draft wild horse heritage management plan under the Kosciuszko Wild Horse Heritage Act 2018.

The minister had allowed an additional month for the completion of the new wild horse heritage management plan which was initially due to be completed by 1 May 2020. A draft plan was due to initially be completed by February 2020.

According to the NPWS website, the committees have met three times in November and December 2019, and again in February 2020 where they also met as a combined entity for the first time.

A joint meeting was slated for 3 April but there are no records of meetings since February 2020.

At that time the Wild Horse Scientific Advisory Panel presented its post-fire recovery advice and is yet to respond to a series of questions raised by the Community Advisory Panel.

Brumbies at Currango Plains in the Kosciuszko National Park, May 2018. Photo: Supplied by John Barilaro's office.

Brumbies at Currango Plains in the Kosciuszko National Park. Photo: Supplied by John Barilaro MP.

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Clem Collier9:58 am 26 Jun 20

Over population of everything……including humans is harmful to all concerned.

Sharon Munroe8:09 am 11 Jun 20

I support Phil Maguire. Protecting brumbies, treating them humanely and protecting our heritage.

NPWS methods of control/eradication are archaic and inhumane. There are other methods of control (such as fertility control) which are more humane if done in the correct manner taking into account the social structure of mobs. We are supposed to be an “enlightened “ society in a first world country yet the attitude is just to kill anything that we don’t like by the cheapest possible method. I too would like to see an accurate count of the brumbies and greater consultation with those groups that are intimately involved and know the brumbies regarding management strategies.

Nothing else should be done until an actual head count, not an estimation, is done.
I would also like to see verified photos and footage of those areas showing the damage that the Brumbies are being blamed for.
I believe there are many other factors that are being ignored, just easier to call them feral and say they’re the problem, get rid of them.
If there’s genuine evidence and nothing to hide there’s no reason not to do these things.

They survived the drought and the bushfires. They are part of our heritage and have a right to be there. Parks Victoria and the relevant NSW authorities seem to have a secret agenda to get rid of all the horses. What about the damage done by deer wild pigs etc. it’s just easier to cull the horses. They haven’t even an accurate number of how many horses are there. So – now – the slaughter begins .

Marian Smith11:14 am 30 May 20

What is happening now to the NSW Brumby Bill under the cover of COVID? I have written to John Barilaro, the PM and Matt Kean Nobody in government replies to anything I write. The UK Actress Miriam Margolyes said recently “There is a brutality there and a greed in Australia, which I don’t like”. I can clearly see the brutality in what is happening but I can’t yet see the greed.

Sonia Davidson5:43 pm 29 May 20

Save and re-home if necessary.
Create a network of local “horse people“ that would be willing to take one or more horses when trapped.

We should save all these horses. They are beautiful and part of our History and Heritage. Good on Mr. Maguire a true Australian. If I owned land you would be welcome to it for these beautiful creatures.

Izzy Luescher10:30 am 29 May 20

I’m supportive of managing our free horse populations by methods that ensure the protection of Australia’s Brumbies lives. Not shooting, culling, eliminating. Phil Maguire is courageously putting his every breath into this debate, and will not give up being associated with their defence. And he is not alone, we are behind him. Anyone who has or has had contact with horses feel the same fire in their hearts. These are intelligent, magestic creatures, whose bond and history of working on properties,fighting on foreign shores, ever faithfull must not be forgotten. There are many supportive people willing to rehome, re-locate, train, protect and care for these horses. Legislation must permit us to do that. Hoping for a just and humane decision today in Victoria’s court. The world is also watching….

The Brumby’s need to be protected and listed as Heritage. They still play an important part of our history and traditions that are being forgotten in this modern tech world we live in.
Stop the Cull of Victoria’s Brumbys

The culling methods used are disgraceful and an embarrassment to Australia. They are violent, traumatizing and excessively cruel. Un Australian at the very least and every Australian should be horrified, and every Tax Paper should vote on this issue as Australia still belings to us all.

our brumbies aren’t feral
feral horses are not our brumbies
what is the real reason for riding the high country of the brumbies
there were so many killed in the fires as were hundreds of other animals and insects living within the area that these wonderful horses have co lived with all. this is not just Phil and his family but a wide range of people who are very passionate about these animals. pigs and deer are feral and have been major destructive animals. deer ringbark trees, pigs dig up the ground. the horse served for Australia and died for Australia. they need to be allowed to live free

Janene Branc2:03 pm 27 May 20

The Snowy Brumby herd’s have been decimated by the drought and fires. Many mobs have not been sighted for months. I believe the should be Heritage listed and protected.

The horses are not the only problem humans are the biggest threat and other deal species .If a brumby numbers are to high trap and try rehome as many as possible culling entire herds is not the answer .They have been there for 200 hundreds years they deserve to be protected.

Laura Lyubomirsky10:11 am 27 May 20

The local community needs to be more involved in these decisions. There hasn’t been any real media crisis and most conversation is happening on social media. It seems that there is a hidden afenda ie., a development like “Aspen” that John Barilano is touting. It is disturbing to think that public servants are taking matters into there own hands without consulting the people that pay for their jobs

Philomena Price10:03 am 27 May 20

The shooting of these Brumbies is cruel and will cause them so much stress and suffering they should have been managed properly but Parks Victoria who don’t seem to be able to manage anything I am against animal cruelty and do not want them captured and sent to knackeries either as they are also very cruel We need to manage the Brumbies with fertility control and rehoming which has been successful in other countries
I have seen the results of these cruel culls and it’s devastating and horrendously cruel most horses have three are more bullet wounds and die slowly and to leave their bodies in the Parks to encourage wild dogs, cats and pigs is an absolute disgrace

Frank and Jenny Flissinger10:10 pm 27 May 20

Numbers have to be wrong I read where mares have 2 foals a year gestation is 11 months.
If she is allowed by the alpha mare she could have a foal the following year.
The fires must of killed off a lot. Old and young even with a wise stallion they could not outrun the fires. Jenny and Frank.

Gloria Barlow9:40 am 27 May 20

The horses are Not the problem.The Deer and Pigs are..I am 74 and have had many years enjoying the mountains ..
The brumbies are part of our heritage..The numbers are incorrect.They must be recounted.So many were lost in the bushfires..

This is a national disgrace our brumbies are our heritage their ancestors fought and carried us in war.Their walking trails stopped bush fires jumping to other areas and without them grazing the fuel on the ground would be so much more dangerous.If there is important plant species we are clever enough to propagate them for sale like the wollemi pine tree is now sold to the public.How many areas have we destroyed for our cities and housing that had native species growing? To Shoot a brumby is cruel and will show that Australias govt is pathetic for allowing such barbaric behavior. The world and all horse lovers are watching .The feral cats eat all our native species and the feral pigs and deer ruin the land not the horses ,get rid of the cats dogs,pigs and deer and geld the colts and rehome those horses that are suitable dont just shoot them all as this is ignorant .Dan Andrews you wont get any votes this way .

Terry Mitchell9:03 am 27 May 20

Leave the Brumbies be! More effort needs to foces on the feral pigs that destroy everything in their path and have very high reproduction rates. Something isn’t right here and I think the Brumbies are just an easier target and not as dangerous to track as feral pigs. There’s rumors of the Alpine region being turned into an Australian Aspen style ski resort and that contracts have been signed and money exchanging hands. So much for the fragile environment and threatened indigenous species. Wouldn’t put it past the government to sell out like that and it’s exceedingly dishonest and deceitful to the Australian people. Don’t blame the Brumbies as they are the least destructive “invasive” species. I think all the “environmental, scientific PROOF” is doctored by paid off so called scientists as I have yet to see terrain showing definitive signs of damage caused by the Brumbies. Leave them be!

There should be a head count of the BRUMBIES and where they are located!!
Nothing should be done with the BRUMBIES until all the numbers and areas have been counted!

I’ve always planned on taking an extended trip to Australia. I cannot visit in good consciousness any country that would be so inhuman. I will spend my money in another country that doesn’t resort to murdering horses in cold blood. I’m sure many other prospective tourists will feel the same way after they read and hear about this planned kill of innocent horses that in all truth are not in large numbers and are not causing problems. The problem is the government is trying to manipulate things to their advantage and don’t care about life. There must be a hidden money trail and a corrupt government in Australia. Disgusting and shameful.

Shannon Anderson8:26 am 27 May 20

Many of us in the US are watching these important developments to save the Australian Brumbys. Over 65 of my just-your-average-horse-person US social media friends alone have financially contributed to supporting the legal battle. We are with you in spirit and would be riding alongside those attempting to complete a safe round up if we could!

Lyndell Laws8:14 am 27 May 20

A new count of brumbies needs to be done by an independent party, as the fires had caused the death of many mobs, so in effect a natural cull has taken place. The previous numbers were a ridiculous figure & need to the challenged. the figure Parks want to cull, will in fact exterminate the Heritage listed Brumbies.

Until an impartial count of numbers is done, this cull is operating under false pretenses. Our heritage is at stake. People will rehome these brumbies if given a chance. slaughter in the name of a new “Aspen” ski resort is the worst blight on Australian history. The brumbies were the backbone of the Light horsemen and should be protected. These gentle steeds are famous as children’s reliable horses. There are humane methods of culling and control.THE WORLD IS WATCHING

william kennedy7:30 am 27 May 20

Let them Be,

TONI Walters7:09 am 27 May 20

I believe that the stated conservation platform is false and there is widespread discussion about returning cattle to these parks, so the argument citing brumby damage is undone if cattle are to be introduced. Those familiar with the Brumbies say that their numbers are greatly reduced by drought and fire and that it is deer, pigs cats and other animals impacting native animals and habitat.

Great article. Leave the Brumbies alone. They have been there for 140 years and haven’t destroyed the environment yet. Its no wonder most Country people detest Parks (who ironically have caused so much more mass destruction to the Environment than the Brumbies ever have).

Alison Donnelly5:01 am 27 May 20

This is scandalous if it is allowed to happen . It is humans who do the damage !!!

Australia’s iconic Brumbies must be Heritage Listed for their lifelong protection because they are a major contributor to our history and culture as Australians. As a nation, Australia would not be where it is now if it wasn’t for our Brumbies; whose ancestors pulled our ploughs, carried us to war and helped us build our country.
Culling (or killing) of any Brumbies by air or on the ground causes blind panic and unnecessary suffering. No shot is a clean shot. There are other more humanne methods of managing populations, without the need to either ground or aerial shoot. These methods are totally unacceptable and extremely cruel. The reports written after the disastrous aerial shooting of the Guy Fawkes brumbies, show mares aborting their foals during birth, whilst slowly dying. The pain and suffering these Brumbies must have endured is beyond belief and totally reprehensible.
There is no doubt shooting is cruel. The horror encountered by the brumbies witnessing their family members scream in pain whilst dropping around them would cause blind panic. Injured bolting horses running for their lives, with many escaping that fatal bullet shot, to then suffer a slow and painful death.
We must show compassion to our iconic Brumbies and use non-lethal methods of management.

Robyn Thiessen11:51 pm 26 May 20

We must insist on a recount by an impartial body post the catastrophic bushfires. Brumby numbers have been greatly exaggerated. Shooting is not the answer. We should be sterilising the mares and rehoming

Penelope Gile11:40 pm 26 May 20

We afford old delapidated buildings a’Heritage Listing’ and protect them with all sorts of by-laws and endless boards and regulators overseeing the protection of their bricks and mortar. Here we have these beautiful iconic Brumbies that have been a part of our history longer than most if not all of these delapidated buildings we protect.It’s a no brainer that we should Heritage List these amazing icons of Australian history. Please do the right thing………Protect these beautiful animals please !!! Barbaric slaughter is not the answer here.

Australia’s iconic Brumbies must be Heritage Listed for their lifelong protection because they are a major contributor to our history and culture as Australians. As a nation, Australia would not be where it is now if it wasn’t for our Brumbies; whose ancestors pulled our ploughs, carried us to war and helped us build our country.

Culling (or killing) of any Brumbies by air or on the ground causes blind panic and unnecessary suffering. No shot is a clean shot. There are other more humanne methods of managing populations, without the need to either ground or aerial shoot. These methods are totally unacceptable and extremely cruel. The reports written after the disastrous aerial shooting of the Guy Fawkes brumbies, show mares aborting their foals during birth, whilst slowly dying. The pain and suffering these Brumbies must have endured is beyond belief and totally reprehensible.

There is no doubt shooting is cruel. The horror encountered by the brumbies witnessing their family members scream in pain whilst dropping around them would cause blind panic. Injured bolting horses running for their lives, with many escaping that fatal bullet shot, to then suffer a slow and painful death.

We must show compassion to our iconic Brumbies and use non-lethal methods of management.

Why has there not been an actual count of the horses running in the High Country, by Parks Vic?
The numbers that they are giving are ludicrious, an increase of 16,000+in five years, 9,000+ – 25,000+,does not add up as the count was done from a helicopter. Mares will only once a year, it takes nearly 12 months for mare to foal down, very rare for twins, mares are, over two years of age before they mature, so unless an actual ground count is done no real numbers can be given. The people of Gippsland now what degradation the tens of thousands of wild pigs and deer do to the waterways small native animals and reptiles, and how the deer ring bark and kill trees, strip small trees of their foliage, they are not what people call conducive to living in the bush. So I sincerely believe that a ground count of all horses both here in Victoria and the Kosciusko National Park, before any recommendations are made and once the truth of the actual numbers are given the Brumby both here in Victoria and NSW be given heritage status allowing to live in the High Country for the rest of their days. After all they are descendants of those brave horses who took our ancestors to war in WW1, They are remembered each ANZAC Day and we pay our respect to them, so why do people want to wipe out pieces of our History.

susan Brittain10:09 pm 26 May 20

Its not a full account. Numbers/population are highly exaggerated due to bushfires taking a toll on the Brumby population & enviromental reports are only taken/disclosed of a one sided anti brumby government chosen enviromental report. Alternative reports say Brumby’s enrich the enviroment and are good for reducing fuel loads benefiting the risk of bushfires. This ‘IS’ a cruel & inhumane cull just for the government to continue to hack through the country for its own agenda. I believe logging still is active through the state in areas where endangered wildlife and flora habitate. I believe so called feral horses are being culled due to the government being signatories to the UN new world order/government and our National Australian Heritage Horse The Brumby is being marked for eradication because it was put on the invasive species list yby some unknown entity. I also believe they are removing them because of their intentions to construct in pristine countryside so the Brumby’s who call this place home have to be inhumanely culled. It would be good to have a good impartial report

Margaret Krakowski9:52 pm 26 May 20

Just leave them be.
The feral pigs are bigger problem.The Brumbys represent so much to a lot of Aussies.
Cruel and if this goes ahead the outcry will be far and wide. Why do we have to hurt and destroy everything that stands in the way of humans.

Horses have fought as soldiers in human wars, throughout history.
How disrespectful and ungrateful to even consider the culling of ANY horse, Brumby or not.
How many of us have ancestors that fought wars on the backs of stoic horses?
Most importantly, shooting a horse from a distance will NEVER kill a horse instantly, the horse would experience pain and fear before a slow death.
I have owned horses all my life (40 years), during the 1980’s it was common for horses to be euthanised by gunshot (now, it is more common for a veterinarian to administer an IV sedative and then lethal injection-painless death). Many years ago, an experienced and professional shooter would be arranged. I was present (1988) when my beloved horse was having to be euthanised due to illness, and witnessed just how close the gun is held to the head. This technique of shooting was the only way to ensure the horse was killed instantly. I recall the shooter kept reassuring me that my horse would be killed instantly, because the gun would be held in close range. How would the shooters in the Victorian Alpine Ranges be able to access such close shooting proximity to WILD horses??? Why is the RSPCA, Animal Welfare Victoria, Australian Veterinary Association NOT PROTECTING these voiceless victims of human cruelty? How can the barbaric manner in which these horses are intended to be killed be permitted? What is the meaning of animal welfare? I am completely dismayed and disgusted that the possibility of culling the horses in such a manner is even being considered, possibly in a developing country, but not in Australia. This issue is not about protecting plants and sprouting regrowth after bushfires, it’s about ANIMAL WELFARE. Wake up Australian Government, practice what you preach in your own government organisation: [email protected]
Shameful, and I am ashamed to be human.

Monica Wangmann8:05 pm 26 May 20

brumbies have to be culled now.

You need culling! Feral people do more damage than Bumbies! Start researching your history, talk to people that have lived there and get your facts right!!

Please read my comments Monica, then decide if brumbies should be killed now…
Have you ever owned a horse? Or had a relationship with these highly intelligent, loyal animals? Would YOU like to be shot down by a gunman in a helicopter??? Would YOU be terrified ? Would YOU like to be left on the ground with a gunshot to your leg, before a shooter might finally tend to you by putting a bullet through your head?? Do YOU think you may experience excruciating pain? Why do SOME CRUEL humans think they have the prerogative to slaughter our world’s wildlife that belong to this planet too? SOME humans are arrogant and ignorant, and outright UNETHICAL. Do you own a cat or dog Monica? Would YOU like your pet to be hunted and gunned down by a shooter? Another solution is what is warranted, not the UNETHICAL slaughtering of voiceless horses. The word “FERAL” is a human construct. Horses are not “feral”, they are majestic creatures and have always been so loyal to man. For the first time in my life, I am ashamed to be Australian.

Absolutely disgusted in Parks Victoria they seriously have no idea on how many brumbies are in the National Parks nor do they give a hoot
Leave our heritage alone and learn that nature does regrow with or without impeding hooves etc
How about they concentrate on listening to the owners of maintained land and start taking the blame for why bushfires we’re out of control due to your lack of listening to those who know the land best LEAVE the brumbies where they are

Rebekah Revie6:25 pm 26 May 20

This cull should not go ahead until current accurate numbers are given. Not an overexaggerated estimate by some pencil pushing Parks “Manager”. The Brumby groups go out hiking and photographing groups. They know each mob and also after the fires the true impact on the environment.

Susan Lewington5:05 pm 26 May 20

Save the Brumbies. Do not cull them. Take responsibility for them.

Barbara Jones4:27 pm 26 May 20

They should be left alone & not culled until the majority of the people have been heard & abided by. Then a plan devised on how to re home & or break these animals, just plain slaughter of them is dishonering our fallen light horse , they are a masive part of our history, why should they just be discarded.

Brumbies are part of our past, leave them alone, omg where does Australia think it managed without the horse, the brumbies have done so much for heavens sake leave them to live in peace, it is their home.

Colette Raison3:51 pm 26 May 20

Remove don’t murder them.

Helen Daniels3:45 pm 26 May 20

This is wrong. Listen to those who live in the alpine regions They know. Bureaucrats have no idea and Parks knew there was fuel for fires and did Nothing

We need to respect the place the brumby has in our cultural heritage. The number of horses need to counted accurately and a sustaibable management plan put in place to keep the stock healthy and viable.

Julie Allcock3:32 pm 26 May 20

The Brumbies have been in the parks for at least 150yrs and deserve to continue to live in the parks. They are our heritage and after the fires the numbers have been controlled by nature. The native flora and fauna has thrived along side of the Brumbies for years and will again. Please do not cull our heritage.

Karen Hewerdine3:16 pm 26 May 20

Our brumbies should not be culled.Their droppings help disperse native grass seeds.
Parks need to consentrate on the eradication of invasive plants ferral pigs,cats,deer,and mongrel dog’s and the maintenance of fire breaks.
Leave the Brumbies alone.

Naomi Stacet2:02 pm 26 May 20

Listen to Phil Maguire.

Dont cull them anywhere.

Wes Manthooth11:08 am 28 May 20

Don’t listen to this person, or Phil Maguire.
Remove these feral pests from our national parks. They’re just horses. If you and others care so much about horses, why aren’t you protesting against the racing industry and its practices as well?
Our national parks have been established to protect native flora and fauna. Feral horses don’t belong in them.

Shooting Brumbies from the air is inhumane and should not be considered by any government.

Margaret james1:07 pm 26 May 20

Horses should be left alone

Janene Branc12:59 pm 26 May 20

The Snowy Brumbies have been decimated by the drought and fires. They need to be able to recover. They must be protected. They are our heritage.

Lynne Kennedy12:45 pm 26 May 20

Brumbies are a part of our heritage and should be allowed to live in peace as they have for 150years before Daniel Andrews became premier of Vic as for destroying the land,I own horses and have more than I should have on 5 acres so I see first hand they do not destroy land actually they keep the grass down so preventing fuel for fires

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