Tough new feral horse measures ‘set benchmark’

Sharon Kelley 11 September 2020 32
Feral horses are a major threat to the unique environment of the Australian Alps, says ACT Parks and Conservation Services. File photo.

Feral horses are a major threat to the unique environment of the Australian Alps, says ACT Parks and Conservation Services. Photo: File.

The ACT Government has announced tough new measures to stop horses entering Namadgi National Park as part of its 2020 Feral Horse Management Plan.

The protection measures include cameras and on-the-ground surveillance to detect horse incursions from adjoining land, while the plan also details control measures including passive trapping and humane destruction of horses on-site, aerial shooting, and free-range ground shooting, should they get in.

ACT Environment Minister Mick Gentleman said the plan sent a strong message to his Victorian and NSW counterparts.

“Horses don’t respect boundaries,” Mr Gentleman said. “There’s no border control for horses, so they will go where the feed and the environment is good for them.”

READ ALSO: Feral horse legal action “delaying the inevitable”

Reclaim Kosci spokesperson Anthony Sharwood said the ACT had led the way in eradicating feral horses in Namadgi in the past, and this revamped plan would ensure horses don’t pollute Namadgi’s precious waterways or trample its rare alpine plants and animal habitats.

“This is a win for every Canberran who loves drinking clear, clean water, and for everyone who loves Namadgi, which is recovering slowly from last summer’s fires and cannot afford a four-hooved threat decimating its fragile ecosystems,” Mr Sharwood said.

The most recent aerial survey in 2019 estimated around 25,000 feral horses in the entire Australian Alps bioregion. The majority of these (around 20,0000) are in Kosciuszko National Park in NSW, with around 5000 in the Victorian high country.

There are currently believed to be none in Namadgi National Park and the high country of the ACT.

“In NSW, feral horses are protected by legislation passed in 2018,” Mr Sharwood said. “Because of the Wild Horse Heritage Act, vast areas of Kosciuszko are being ruined, with creeks becoming mudheaps, wetlands being destroyed, and native grasslands reduced to bare earth.

“This failure to manage horses adequately in NSW has led to growing horse numbers in the northern end of Kosciuszko National Park, meaning horses are more likely to cross into the ACT.

“The ACT plan, which has just been signed off, is based on good science and strong animal welfare principles, and has the clearly stated objective of protecting the natural and cultural values of Namadgi National Park from the impacts of feral horses. This plan should be the benchmark for feral horse management in NSW and Victoria.”

Original Article published by Sharon Kelley on About Regional.

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32 Responses to Tough new feral horse measures ‘set benchmark’
David Aumann David Aumann 2:53 pm 15 Sep 20

Shoot horses leaving carcess plenty of food for wild dogs to feed on dog plague what will you do then

Sandra Jorgensen Sandra Jorgensen 2:03 pm 15 Sep 20

It is so disappointing that people condone violence to be perpetrated against horses as a solution to this problem. 20 years ago today, the celebration of the relationship between humans and horses opened the 2000 Olympics. We are meant to be the more intelligent species and we are crying out for a kinder world that rejects violence and embraces the gentle wisdom of horses as healers. The imbalance between yang and yin is at the heart of so many of our problems.

Dorinda Lillington Dorinda Lillington 1:29 pm 15 Sep 20

I would have thought pigs do way more damage than horses. Horses move to get food and therefore when they move on the land regenerates. They also keep the fuel down. Pigs plough the ground making regeneration much harder. Spend the money on the pigs. Horses are easier to catch so they go for them while the pig population rockets up.

Glenys Roper Glenys Roper 1:15 pm 15 Sep 20

Yes an excellent policy

Andre Sphenis Andre Sphenis 6:18 am 15 Sep 20

You can talk politely to the wombat

Lisa Bishop Lisa Bishop 4:54 am 15 Sep 20

When did ‘brumbies’ turn into ‘feral horses’?

    John Moulis John Moulis 10:34 am 15 Sep 20

    The moment we had a rugby team by that name.

Cary Elliot Johnson Cary Elliot Johnson 8:15 pm 14 Sep 20

Waiting for the 1080 (native plant origin) poison kills natives comments. Because native animals living with native plants is a new thing in Australia

    Daphne Dunphy Daphne Dunphy 9:15 am 16 Sep 20

    Here we go again. Do all theseMisters for the Environment follow the same culture? Destroy the brumbies. Destroy the feral pigs and deer and check out the 4X4 behaviour, I say.

Karl Edmondson Karl Edmondson 8:13 pm 14 Sep 20

To quote friendly jordies, they are basically majestic rabbits.

Proboscus Proboscus 7:26 pm 14 Sep 20

Anthony Sharwood says “Because of the Wild Horse Heritage Act, vast areas of Kosciuszko are being ruined, with creeks becoming mudheaps, wetlands being destroyed, and native grasslands reduced to bare earth.”.

I would like him to name the vast areas becoming mud heaps and being destroyed by Brumbies so I can see them for myself. I believe he is being misleading, like all of the anti-brumby brigade, by laying the blame for any damage in the Kosciuszko National Park on horses when I believe pigs are the cause of said ecological damage.

    chewy14 chewy14 10:50 pm 14 Sep 20

    Once again, what you believe and what the science and research actually show are completely different. The only misleading information comes from those attempting to use anecdotes as if it was equal to decades of actual research.

    You honestly think the researchers can’t differentiate between the damage caused by pigs and horses?

    These horses are feral animals doing damage to our native flora and fauna. Just like every other pest species, they should be controlled.

    They don’t get a pass simply because some people think they look cute.

    Proboscus Proboscus 10:56 am 15 Sep 20

    I base my belief on over 30 years of camping and bushwalking the KNP. As I have mentioned numerous times before when this topic arises, I have never come across a single “scientist” or “researcher” in my almost weekly ventures into the KNP. In fact, I’ve hardly come across anyone in that time.

    So, yes, I reckon my “anecdotal” experiences far outweigh that of a person trying to score a government research grant who spends the odd weekend in a public campground while never venturing too far from the closest drop toilet.

    chewy14 chewy14 12:49 pm 15 Sep 20

    And once again your single, non expert, anecdotal evidence counts for almost zero in regards to the actual science.

    You’re going for the classic obfuscation, “I haven’t seen any damage and even if I had, it would be because of pigs, not horses”.

    Read the actual research. If you think those people aren’t on the ground, doing the actual work described, you’ve uncovered a massive scientific fraud enacted by thousands of people over decades.

    And then I’m sure you can easily disprove their research, which is obviously falsified under your “theory”.

    Seeing as there are many people who think like yourself, you could even fund more research to out the “truth” of the matter.

    But we both know why that will never happen.

    Because what you’re attempting to say isn’t remotely true.

    Proboscus Proboscus 4:05 pm 15 Sep 20

    Chewy, why are you getting upset? Are you one of these “researchers”?

    I’d back my experience, knowledge and observations against any scientist, researcher or even your good self – unless he or she or yourself spent even half the time I’ve spent in the KNP.

    Pigs primarily dig for their food and are in plague proportions in the KNP. Their snouts dig down into the earth and push up – like a horses hoof.

    And unless you are specifically searching for them, pigs will see you before you see them, and hide. I’ve seen areas the size of football fields torn up by pigs. Pigs also wallow in mud and tear up wet areas to make them muddy for wallowing.

    Brumbies, however, don’t mind seeing people. But they don’t let you get too close (unless you’re at Blue Waterholes where some of the horses walk right up to you. I believe most of this “scientific research” may have occurred here – nice campsites and toilets and the evil horses are right outside your government paid camper trailer).

    As I said in a previous post about the Brumbies, let’s go after the pigs first and cull their numbers dramatically. If the damage is continuing after a decade or so then, yes, go after the horses.

    And lastly, don’t question my integrity. I spend a lot of my time in the KNP because I love it and I don’t want to see it destroyed by pests. But I also don’t want egg heads pushing their agendas and blaming the horses when they aren’t the problem.

    Proboscus Proboscus 4:09 pm 15 Sep 20

    I should’ve said “Their snouts dig down into the earth and push up – which looks like a horses hoof”.

    chewy14 chewy14 8:37 pm 15 Sep 20

    You mistake my exasperation for anger.

    And you may say you love the parks and don’t want to see them destroyed by pests but the stance you are taking would have that very outcome, which is what really is dumbfounding.

    And as above, if you think your expertise is worth more than the hundreds of scientists and researchers who have written papers in this area showing the damage done by horses, you could conduct or commission your own research to disprove it. C’mon, get cracking.

    But in reality, the “eggheads” as you call them have only one agenda. To protect the native flora and fauna of these parks. It’s those who oppose them that really have the agendas, because they can’t overcome the cognitive dissonance of their beliefs about the pretty horses despite the clear damage they do.

    There are already population management for other feral animals like pigs, why on earth would you treat these feral horses differently.

    Proboscus Proboscus 11:50 am 16 Sep 20

    Chewy, you say “And as above, if you think your expertise is worth more than the hundreds of scientists and researchers who have written papers in this area showing the damage done by horses, you could conduct or commission your own research to disprove it.”.

    I’ve repeated this many times but, since you seem to be ignoring it, I’ll say it again. In over 30 years of almost weekly hiking and camping in the KNP I have NEVER seen ONE, yet alone HUNDREDS, of the researchers or scientists that you say are writing these papers.

    You’re correct that there are population management for other feral animals but they aren’t working. Other feral animals (foxes, dogs, pigs and cats) have litters of young numerous times of the year making their numbers rise exponentially every year where
    Brumbies only have one foal a year.

    And finally, I don’t have an agenda. Eggheads and bean counters do as they rely on government handouts.

    chewy14 chewy14 1:00 pm 16 Sep 20

    Yes you keep repeating irrelevant information despite me clearly showing why it’s irrelevant.

    The fact that you “personally” claim to have never seen researchers is pretty much meaningless from a data perspective.

    Even if your subjective claim and memory was correct, KNP is nearly 7000 square kilometres big and Namadgi is another 1000 square kilometres.

    Perhaps you can work out why I’ll take your claims with a grain of salt, particularly when the details and methodology of the research is in the public domain and could be easily disputed if what you’re saying is true.

    If you wanted your opinion to have any value, you would have at least attempted to refute some of the actual scientific evidence. Your singular anecdotal claimed experience does not equal scientific research.

    Although from your responses, I can clearly see why actual experts have such a tough time explaining facts, evidence and the scientific method to the general populace.

    And finally, yes you do have an agenda, you just don’t want to admit it. Much easier to obfuscate and rationalise your preconceived ideas than it is to deal with evidence that challenges your worldview.

    Proboscus Proboscus 3:12 pm 16 Sep 20

    Look Chewy, you’re entitled to believe whatever you want. I was giving actual, eyewitness accounts of what I have observed in the last 30 odd years. Yes, KNP is a large area but I go into a lot of places on and off the beaten track. I’d expect to see at least one boffin in that time.

    Whilst siding with the “experts” and gobbing off at me, you actually haven’t contributed anything to this subject. I suggest you get off your high horse (pun intended) and form your own opinions by experiencing the great outdoors. Then we can have an informed debate and, hopefully, you won’t get personal again.

    chewy14 chewy14 8:00 am 17 Sep 20

    I’ve spent plenty of time in these areas, which is why I don’t want to see them ruined from these feral animals, which have been clearly shown to cause serious damage to the natural environment.

    Although I find it rather amusing that you think spending time in an area somehow gives you special knowledge on a detailed scientific matter. Does experiencing Summer make you informed about climate change?

    I suggest you get off your high country walking tracks and read some scientific reports and research. Then we can have an informed debate.

    Oh, and there’s nothing personal about this. Pointing out that personal anecdotes don’t carry the same weight as actual scientific research is just a fact.

    Spiral Spiral 9:51 am 16 Sep 20

    Leave them.

    They are part of our Cultural Heritage and as has been seen elsewhere in Australia, Cultural Heritage overrides environmental concerns.

    chewy14 chewy14 10:44 am 16 Sep 20

    They are feral horses, to claim that every single one of them is “part of our cultural heritage” is about the longest bow stretch I’ve seen in a while.

    We cull other feral animals that could similarly be claimed as part of our “cultural heritage”, it’s an extremely weak argument.

    And very few people are calling for the complete elimination of all of these horses so the claimed cultural link would remain regardless of the population management programs.

    Spiral Spiral 4:15 pm 16 Sep 20

    “And very few people are calling for the complete elimination of all of these horses so the claimed cultural link would remain regardless of the population management programs.”


    “The NSW Greens has arguably the most evidence-based policy, aiming to reduce horse numbers by 90% in three years, with a longer-term goal of full eradication. “

    Apparently the NSW Greens don’t agree with you.

    chewy14 chewy14 4:34 pm 16 Sep 20

    Why would I care what the NSW Greens think? They are just as nutty as those who think thousands of feral horses have some sort of mythical heritage value.

    But you will also notice that the Greens policy is for full eradication only in the national parks areas, not full eradication of the horses completely, which is what I said above. There are many alpine/agricultural areas outside of the national parks where Brumby populations could be managed to assuage the “heritage” claims. In fact, such populations already exist.

Stephen Saunders Stephen Saunders 4:27 pm 14 Sep 20

Thanks for this update, Sharon. We are handicapped by Barilaro’s high allegiance to horses and total disdain for native creatures.

Peter McDonald Peter McDonald 3:43 pm 14 Sep 20

No horses in the park. Hollow policy.

Benkin Manfish Benkin Manfish 3:14 pm 14 Sep 20

Bravo, sensible policy to try and protect our parks from the madness next door.

Aisha Bottrill Aisha Bottrill 3:10 pm 14 Sep 20

humans do way worse damage to the environment and precious eco-systems than any of these horses! the horses are there at no fault of their own, why should they suffer the consequences? they’re just trying to survive. Perhaps catch the horses and re-homing them could be a better option.

    Benkin Manfish Benkin Manfish 3:15 pm 14 Sep 20

    And we should let them drive other species to extinction if we can't meet that incredibly high bar?

Johno Bakker Johno Bakker 2:51 pm 14 Sep 20

But if a wombat is digging out your house footings you can’t do anything about it,and before someone points out I know wombats are not feral !!

    Warwick Jay Warwick Jay 3:44 pm 14 Sep 20

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm not sure there's 20,000 wombats digging up house footings in Australia.

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