9000 wild brumbies to be culled from Kosciuszko National Park under proposed management plan

James Coleman 12 October 2021 50
Wild brumbies at Currango Plain in Kosciuszko National Park

Wild brumbies at Currango Plain in Kosciuszko National Park. Photo: Supplied.

The number of wild horses in Kosciuszko National Park would be slashed under a new proposed plan to manage their population and the impact they have on the region’s alpine wilderness – but don’t expect any aerial shooting.

The Kosciuszko National Park Wild Horse Heritage Management Plan proposes to remove or cull about 9000 wild horses, or brumbies, during the course of six years.

The latest government figures put the estimated number of brumbies in Kosciuszko National Park at 14,380, which experts say is far too many heavy hooves for the sensitive alpine ecosystem.

The scientific evidence is that the current numbers are causing severe damage faster than it can be naturally repaired but the brumbies’ place in the high country is a contentious issue, with advocates arguing the numbers are inflated and removal is not necessarily the answer.

READ ALSO: Tallong residents coordinate rescue of brumbies and call for government incentives

Impacts include trampling the fragile subalpine ecosystem, eroding waterways and destroying key habitat for threatened species such as the northern corroboree frog and stocky galaxias fish.

Such is the negative environmental impact, wild horses have been formally recognised as a Key Threatening Process according to the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016.

Wild brumbies at Currango Plains in Kosciuszko National Park

Wild brumbies as seen from the air in Kosciuszko National Park. Photo: Supplied.

In response, the new draft management plan allows for a “sustainable wild horse population” of 3000 to remain in 32 per cent of the park by 30 June, 2027. The 47 per cent of the park that is already free of brumbies would be kept that way.

The NSW Government’s last draft strategy, in 2016, called for the population of feral horses in Kosciuszko National Park to be reduced by 90 per cent over 20 years. But this was opposed by then NSW Nationals leader John Barilaro and was never implemented.

Instead, he introduced the Kosciuszko Wild Horse Heritage Act in 2018 – the first law to protect an introduced species in a national park to the detriment of native species.

NSW Minister for the Environment Matt Kean says the draft plan is trying to strike a balance between protecting the park’s environment and recognising the cultural heritage value of wild horses.

Another law rules out the aerial culling of horses in NSW national parks.

This was put in place in October 2020, following drought, when a widespread cull of the largely starving brumby population garnered national media attention, and public consensus quickly turned against shooting horses from helicopters.

Kosciuszko National Park

The Kosciuszko National Park alpine ecosystem is being destroyed by wild horses faster than it can naturally repair itself. Photo: Mike Bremers.

Conservation groups still maintain that aerial culling is the only practical method for quick, large-scale and humane culling of large animals in inaccessible locations.

The RSPCA also supports professionally managed aerial culling of feral horses in Kosciuszko National Park, saying that trapping and transporting horses for slaughter causes more suffering than a bullet.

According to the new management plan, culling measures would include a mix of aerial mustering, trapping and ground shooting.

Removing wild horses from alpine areas of Kosciusko National Park has been an ongoing task since 2002. Kosciuszko land managers first identified the need to control the increasing brumby herds in the late 1990s when their numbers were estimated at 2000.

The term ‘brumby’ is attributed to Sergeant James Brumby, who left his horses to run free on his land in NSW when he was transferred to Tasmania in the 1830s.

READ ALSO: The irony of the brumby and Snowy 2.0 sharing the same backyard

Across eastern Australia, wild horse numbers have increased massively since then, and Australia now has the largest population of wild horses in the world, with more than 300,000.

Minister Kean said he recognises there are very strong and diverse views on this issue.

“But at the heart of these views is a common desire to sustainably manage the park for the future,” he said.

The draft Kosciuszko National Park Wild Horse Heritage Management Plan is now available for community feedback until 2 November, 2021, and can be viewed here.

Minister Kean will consider the draft plan, along with any submissions and advice, before making any necessary changes and deciding whether to adopt the plan under the Kosciuszko Wild Horse Heritage Act 2018.

Original Article published by James Coleman on About Regional.

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50 Responses to 9000 wild brumbies to be culled from Kosciuszko National Park under proposed management plan
Jenni 'Gabrielle' McInnes Jenni 'Gabrielle' McInnes 4:52 pm 18 Oct 21


They should not be there and the idea of glorifying a feral species and protecting them under law is absolutely mad.

Nazmul Hasan Nazmul Hasan 9:49 am 18 Oct 21

Very sad.

Is there any alternatives of this approach?

JM Cregan JM Cregan 9:25 pm 15 Oct 21

I am shocked and dismayed that the RSPCA has endorsed one of the methods that would cause panic and mayhem and distress to the animals. The very thing that their own guidelines prohibit. Ironic? Hypocritical? Sadly, very much so.

Wayne Boyd Wayne Boyd 3:27 pm 15 Oct 21

Leave them alone!!!

jwinston jwinston 1:25 pm 15 Oct 21

They’ll struggle to get their quota of 9,000 – lucky to be half that in all of the KNP.

Brett Carr Brett Carr 12:33 pm 15 Oct 21

Absolutely no species more invasive than humans.

We " protect" the wilderness from an introduced species...

Who protects the wilderness from us?

Sue Sutton Sue Sutton 11:40 am 15 Oct 21

True Lorraine Ruth Savage luv the Brumbies but understand the damage.

Alicia Bellanich Alicia Bellanich 7:59 am 15 Oct 21

There aren't any where near that many in the park, humans destroying everything with their ignorance, as usual.

Lorraine Ruth Savage Lorraine Ruth Savage 7:39 am 15 Oct 21

What about the wild deer.wild pigs.

    Helen Brinsmead Helen Brinsmead 5:13 pm 17 Oct 21

    Lorraine Ruth Savage why not all of them?

Paulie Mumma Paulie Mumma 12:03 am 15 Oct 21

Jacqueline Hyde Yes totally agree!

Paulie Mumma Paulie Mumma 11:43 pm 14 Oct 21

Jacqueline Hyde Surely there's a more humane solution, like herding them off to another area. They heard cattle over hundreds of km's up north!

    Jacqueline Hyde Jacqueline Hyde 12:00 am 15 Oct 21

    Paulie Mumma yes there should be!

    I have had very close relationships with a few horses in my life, I generally love them all though.

    They have personalities with a strong bonding with other horses & humans, when domesticated.

    Prue McKay Prue McKay 2:08 pm 18 Oct 21

    Paulie Mumma The cattle belong to someone and are going to private property. Who owns the brumbies and where will they go? They are a pest and should be dealt with as such.

Jocelyn Dexter Jocelyn Dexter 9:09 pm 14 Oct 21

There are not 9000 brumbies in the park! Meanwhile rip the park apart for resorts and hydro..

    Greg Peterson Greg Peterson 11:20 am 15 Oct 21

    Jocelyn Dexter Is there more than 9000?

    Matt Mason Matt Mason 10:02 pm 15 Oct 21

    Jocelyn Dexter there are more than that are are not native simple

Stephen Saunders Stephen Saunders 8:33 pm 14 Oct 21

Kean is a huge hypocrite, hyping “net zero emissions” in the posh suburbs, at the same time as this hostile horse plan for hicks.

Three thousand pest horses are to be curated over 32% of the park until 2027. Mountain pygmy possum – and many other threatened species – would love to have that level of protection.

Kati Mann Kati Mann 8:29 pm 14 Oct 21

To his great shame, Barilaro 'introduced the Kosciuszko Wild Horse Heritage Act in 2018 – the first law to protect an introduced species in a national park to the detriment of native species.'

These horses are a feral introduced pest, just like rabbits, pigs and cane toads. We need to get rid of them - why would you ever give precedence to an introduced pest over native flora and fauna?!

    Astrid Smith Astrid Smith 4:10 am 15 Oct 21

    Kati Mann and so are humans. Look at the damage humans have done to the environment in the Snowy...and now they want to do more development down there...all in the name if money.

    I am sorry but we all need to look at us too when it comes to environmental damage.

    No I am not a greenie just a person who has a realistic look at things at different angles.

    Kati Mann Kati Mann 5:42 am 15 Oct 21

    Astrid Smith I totally agree with you, but this shouldn't stop the removal of feral horses.

    Astrid Smith Astrid Smith 5:48 am 15 Oct 21

    Kati Mann I would prefer to see it done humanely. Shooting from helicopters is disgusting as they lay witheringly in pain on the ground until they die. The way the USA have managed mustangs by reducing reproduction is much more better.

    We have so many brumby rehousing organisations in Australia working hard to save as many as they can.

Matt Fordham Matt Fordham 8:20 pm 14 Oct 21

Wonder if they’ll stop the damage snowy 2.0 is doing and the tourists. Doubt it.

Michael Groenhout Michael Groenhout 5:08 pm 14 Oct 21

That's a lot of meat.. I hope they don't waste it

Tom ODea Tom ODea 4:19 pm 14 Oct 21

About time

Martin Budden Martin Budden 3:42 pm 14 Oct 21

Brumbies are the cane toads of the Snowys.

Leigh Brady Leigh Brady 3:29 pm 14 Oct 21

The native animals we’re saving with this action will be grateful

    Joe Osborne Joe Osborne 4:42 pm 14 Oct 21

    Leigh good idea but do we get brumby meat? Asking for a friend

Capital Retro Capital Retro 3:11 pm 14 Oct 21

It’s ironic that we tolerate large scale native Kangaroo culling in our own backyard but we find doing the same thing to feral horses to save our Alpine environment is repugnant.

It’s also risible that a lot of Australians (not the large numbers the Austrlalia Insitute have declared) want action on climate change where there is no visible or proven damage being caused yet the same people appear to excuse the feral horses for the massive damage they are causing.

The proposed cull should be extended to feral goats, pigs and feral deer also. I think the foxes and wild dogs will never be exterminated but they could be controlled more.

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