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Australian state government proposes protecting wild…

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) – An Australian state government has decided to legally protect rather than kill thousands of wild horses, infuriating scientists who argue the feral species is doing severe environmental damage to the country’s iconic Snowy Mountains alpine region.

New South Wales Deputy Premier John Barilaro said Monday that his government has struck a balanced response to ecological concerns about the horses’ impact on Kosciuszko National Park.

A 2016 government report had recommended that 90 percent of the park’s 6,000 horses be killed.

Barilaro said legislation will be introduced to state parliament this week that will recognize the horses’ heritage value and ban killing them. But some will be relocated.

Conservation groups say the decision puts at risk dozens of native species.

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