3 March 2020

Opponents of Kosciusko brumby cull demand post-fire recount

| Elka Wood
Join the conversation
Brumbies captured post-fire by Cooma photographer Michelle Brown

Brumbies captured post-fire by Cooma photographer Michelle Brown. Photo: Michelle J Photography.

NSW Minister for Environment Matt Kean hs announced that brumby numbers in Kosciusko National Park will be reduced substantially, with as many as 4,000 out of an estimated total of 20,000 horses due to be rehomed or culled.

The move comes as a bushfire recovery measure, with a NSW Government spokesperson confirming that advice from the Community Advisory Panel and the Science Advisory Panel “supports the need for urgent post-bushfire action to control horses in the sensitive areas of Kosciuszko National Park, which is necessary to protect the environment as it recovers from the fire”.

Approximately 57,000 ha have been prioritised for control in three northern parts of the park, including Nungar Plain, Cooleman Plain, and parts of Boggy and Kiandra Plains.

“These areas contain a range of values including threatened species and sensitive ecological communities which are most vulnerable to trampling and other impacts of horses. They also include areas with a high risk of collision between horses and vehicles. This will not have a significant impact on areas where horses have heritage value and are likely to be retained under long-term management of the park,” the spokesperson says.

But not everyone agrees with the measures, with locals arguing that more horses died in the fires or were humanely euthanised by National Parks staff the immediate aftermath than has been publically acknowledged.

“National Parks have not released how many horses were euthanised after the fires,” says Cooma resident and photographer Michelle Brown of Michelle J Photography.

“As far as we know, counts are taken every five years and the last aerial count was taken in 2019. We want a post-fire brumby count and we want it now. I don’t think there’s a total of 4,000 horses in the whole park after the fire, let alone the 20,000 the government is claiming are there.”

Brown reports seeing many dead horses on her frequent visits to the park after the fire.

Dead horses killed by fire

Cooma photographer and brumby advocate Michelle Brown took photos of some of the horses which died in the fires. Photo: Michelle J Photography.

“I’ve gone into the park on foot two to three times a week since the fires and I’d estimate there are between 2,500 and 3,200 horses in the whole park.”

According to Brown, the fact that the horses move around so much means that horses from surrounding nature reserves like Jingellic Nature Reserve, Bogandyera Nature Reserve and Clarkes Hill Nature Reserve were counted as being part of the Kosciusko population.

While not an official count, members of the Invasive Species Council, along with ANU Environment Professor Jamie Pittock, flew over burnt areas of the park in late January and took footage of mobs of horses grazing on the first green shoots on open plains.

“The picture is becoming clearer as photos and video emerge from Kosciuszko National Park showing threatened species habitat hit hard while the 20,000 strong population of feral horses have largely been unscathed,” Professor Pittock says.

“Australia’s plants did not evolve to withstand trampling by hard-hooved animals or their intensive grazing.”

Invasive Species Council CEO Andrew Cox is concerned about the concentration of brumbies in unburnt areas of the park.

“The fires that burnt 35 per cent of the park appear to have pushed the horses into a more concentrated area, increasing the trampling of wetlands, habitat of critically endangered species like the northern corroboree frog and the stocky galaxias fish.

“Horses are also returning to burnt areas following the recent rains. This will cause irreparable damage to burnt peat bogs and recovering alpine and sub-alpine vegetation.”

Brown argues that the environment has adapted to having brumbies as part of the ecosystem.

“The numbers are flawed, they’ve been flawed for years, these horses have been in this environment for 180 years, they are part of it now and they are part of our heritage. I’m appalled, it’s got to stop, this mentality to just kill everything.”

She invites anyone who doubts the numbers to come out on foot with her and see how many horses died in the fires and to see that the brumbies don’t need to be culled for humane reasons.

“The horses are fine, they are not starving, the treeline is burnt out but the plains are recovering and green. They have plenty of feed and so do all the other animals,” she says.

Original Article published by Elka Wood on About Regional.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments
Megan van der Velde10:25 pm 20 May 20

Sadly humans caused this problem so we need to fix it. No one likes killing animals but they are feral – this means they do not belong in this environment as will damage it. This equals no corroborre frogs, pygmy possums and other beautiful natives. As for weed management – yes also a massive issue however much more difficult to control widely. People also do not want to use herbicides. Note – some of these plants are rather beautiful as well – where is the lobby group upset about killing them….We will really regret not managing these animals – as we do not managing foxes and rabbits who are ruining our countryside as they are not meant to be here.

Brumbies are a feral pest that is causing proven damage to the natural environment and causing other species of plants and animals to become endangered.

Just like other feral *and some time native) animals, they need their populations to be controlled through culling to prevent this damage.

Honestly, just because these horses are pretty, doesn’t mean they should be treated differently.

Pigs were released on Australian soil by Cook in 1777 and were part of the first fleet. Does this mean feral pigs are part of our ” heritage” and should be protected as well?

Brumbies are part of our Snowy River environment. Government should protect the park by controlling blackberries and weeds, shooting and trapping wild dogs and wild pigs and allowing careful grazing by brumbies, and mountain cattle which have had a positive influence on fuel reduction and fire risk over the centuries.

rationalobserver7:37 pm 08 Mar 20

People, Please! engage your brains before you offer your opinions.
Everyone carries on about the beautiful and endangered national park. It is far from that.
The reason the introduced animals are there in numbers is because of the presence of food plants from their native locations, in other words WEEDS.
Deer for example are attracted to blackberry shoots. Why are there deer in most parks? Because the parks are over run by blackberries. Shoot all the deer and do nothing about the blackberries, and the deer will return.
Clean up all the weeds and the ferals will go elsewhere in search of preferred food.

I’m doing my part by shooting them as soon as I see one cross the boundary onto private property. Got heaps so far.

Leave the brumbies alone.

Environmental impacts come second to Cultural Heritage rights.

They are a significant part of the Cultural Heritage of Australia, so leave them.

No, they are a feral pest, and like every other feral pest, should be removed from a National Park, which is supposed to be a conservation area for native flora and fauna.

Logic and common sense have nothing to do with it.

Our laws allow environmentally stupid practices in the name of Cultural Heritage.

Surely it would be racist to allow one group’s Cultural Heritage to threaten endangered species but then demand action against another group’s Cultural Heritage because it is harmful to the environment.

Perhaps it is time for environmental groups to stand up for the environment.

Unfortunately, that is unlikely to happen.

rationalobserver10:26 am 06 Mar 20

The flaw in your logic is the assumption that everything remains in a pristine state, which is clearly untrue. The landscape has been heavily modified by everything from indigenous land clearing by fire through to land clearing for modern day ski runs and access roads. The whole native V’s introduced argument is unsophisticated and pointless in a post colonial context. It only has traction because most uninformed commentators are capable of recognising different types of animals. Those same people will look at a gully choked by introduced plants and weeds and gush at how natural and green it all looks.

I think you misunderstood my point. As an example, green sea turtles are listed as endangered. They have a lot of things stacked against them such as loss of habitat and they are apparently prone to ingesting plastics and also to producing less males due to temperature-determined sex determination.

Dugongs are in a better position, but not by much.

There is no logical reason or excuse to allow hunting of these creatures.

Yet in the name of Cultural Heritage we allow it.

This should be illegal. Groups that claim to support the environment yet are willing to let this continue should be ashamed of themselves.

As a nation we should be striving to save these creatures, not willingly contributing to their extinction.

People who allow this hunting because of Cultural Heritage but then demand action against the high country brumbies are racists. Those brumbies are part of our Cultural heritage.

Not hunting dugongs doesn’t even require the effort required to cull the brumbies. It doesn’t require killing animals or anything unpalatable. It simply requires people to be environmentally friendly and stop intentionally killing an endangered species. Who wouldn’t want that?

.So, those of you who claim to care for the environment, please step up. Demand culling or even eradication of the brumbies in the name of the environment, but also demand protection of green sea turtles and dugongs. Demand they be protected from hunting.

Remember, extinction is forever!

rationalobserver1:17 am 04 Mar 20

Forget the horses, start with the weeds which were / will be far more wide spread and harmful for conservation values. And let’s all quickly forget that park management regimes lead us directly to extensive hot fires which destroyed anything of conservation value anyway. “move along, nothing to see here”.

Stephen Saunders4:44 pm 03 Mar 20

10m hectares burnt nationally. 1bn native creatures killed. Fire has scorched the habitat of 100s of native flora and fauna species. And still somebody is agonising over feral horses. Unbelievable.

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. 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.