26 May 2023

Volunteers to conduct brumby count

| Gail Eastaway
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KNP brumby fillies.

These brumby fillies have been rehomed near Cooma. The Snowy Mountain Brumby Sustainability and Management Group is organising a count of horses in KNP to support calls for a halt to the brumby cull. Photo: Gail Eastaway.

More than 60 people have volunteered to participate in a brumby count in the Kosciuszko National Park (KNP) on 3 and 4 June.

The Snowy Mountain Brumby Sustainability and Management Group (SMBSMG) put out a call on social media to request help in conducting the count, which it will use to support its case for the cessation of brumby culling in the park.

In the past two weeks 67 brumbies have been shot in the park, in the Snowy Plains area.

SMBSMG president, Di Hardley, said the count the group had planned was necessary to counter the claims there were more than 18,000 brumbies in the park.

The count being used by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), is the Cairns system which has been widely criticised by brumbies supporters and others as being unsuitable and unreliable for counting horses.

Ms Hardley said the volunteers were coming from across Australia to participate in the count.

They will work in teams of four or five plus a leader and will follow the NPWS maps from their last count as closely as possible.

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The count will include photographs and GPS readings. Each team leader will sign a statutory declaration attesting to the number of horses counted.

On the second day, the teams will go out again, but into different areas. The results of the two days will be collated and will be presented to the NSW Parliament with a request for a cessation of the present cull.

Rod Roberts MLC is supporting SMBSMG and is also calling for an independent count.

Mr Roberts has previously questioned the Cairns methodology.

After a visit to KNP in 2022, Mr Roberts told parliament, “I report to this parliament that what I saw in no way correlated to the information provided in the Cairns survey. Mark Twain’s quote of “lies, damn lies and statistics” came flooding back to me.

“In over two hours in the air, flying over where the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service agrees that 85 per cent of the park’s horse population lives, we counted only 992 horses — I repeat, 992.

“The often quoted Cairns survey estimated the brumby population in that area of the park to be over 12,500. If that is to be believed, that means we missed approximately 90 per cent of the horses.

“That is not only unbelievable but impossible. I am the first to admit that it would have been impossible for us to have seen every single horse in that part of the park, but to miss 90 per cent? The big question is where were the 11,000 other horses? Were they hiding under rocks or behind trees? I do not think so. They just do not exist.”

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SMBSMG has invited NSW Environment Minister Penny Sharpe to meet with them to discuss the count, but Minister Sharpe has not accepted the offer.

Ms Hardley said in addition to the actual count on 3 and 4 June, SMBSMG had a petition circulating to halt the culling.

The group needs 20,000 signatures on the electronic petition or 10,000 on the paper petition.

The petition calls for a halt to the culling and a review of the management plan.

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