More than 4,000 brumbies will be killed or rehomed – while goats, deer and pigs will be taken out by gunmen in helicopters
- Around 4,000 wild brumbies will be removed from Kosciuszko National Park
- Many of the animals will be shot from the air by gunmen in helicopters
- The move is to help native wildlife recover from a hellish summer of bushfires
Around 4000 wild brumbies will be killed or rehomed while pigs, goats and deer will be shot from helicopters.
The horses will be removed from Kosciuszko National Park, in the Australian Alps, next month to help the native wildlife recover from the summer bushfires.
The decision came just as the New South Wales state government implemented a massive pest management program that will see pigs and deer shot to aid bushfire recovery, the Daily Telegraph reported.
Over the summer three separate bushfires burned more than one-third of the park, where about a quarter of the area is occupied by horses.
Around 4000 wild brumbies will be killed or rehomed while pigs, goats and deer will be shot from helicopters
The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service said: ‘NPWS has commenced the largest pest management program in its history.’
‘An aerial shooting program, targeting feral pigs, goats and deer has begun across the NPWS estate. Between 1700 and 2000 hours of shooting will be conducted in the first 12 months. This represents a five-fold increase in aerial shooting effort.
‘Horse removal will start in June 2020 and continue throughout the year. The priority is to rehome horses. Those horses that cannot be rehomed will be euthanised in trap yards, or sent to a knackery.’
The Kosciuszko Wild Horse Heritage Act 2018 allows for the removal of brumbies as long as a ‘sustainable’ population is maintained.
Three areas in the park will be targeted and all horses in the Nungar Plan region will be removed, while those on the Cooleman Plain and Kiandra Plain will be reduced to a sustainable population.
The Federal Court ruled to remove the brumbies in a bid to protect the environment.
‘Retaining the current population of brumbies in the Bogong High Plains and Eastern Alps would not be an appropriate control of the threat they present to ecosystems, habitats and species in those alpine areas,’ Justice Michael O’Bryan ruled on Friday.
The horses will be removed from Kosciuszko National Park, in the Australian Alps, next month to help the native wildlife recover from the summer bushfires
Brumby numbers have boomed with about 25,000 recorded across the Australian Alps National Parks in 2019, according to Parks Victoria analysis.
The animals caused ‘great damage’ to the national park because their hard hooves damaged moss beds, fens, high altitude wetlands and peatlands which are classed as threatened, the government body said.
‘Since the abolition of cattle grazing in the Alpine National Park, these wetlands have been slowly recovering, only to be impacted now by a growing number of feral horses,’ Parks Victoria protection advocate Phil Ingamells said.
But the culling and removal of the animals was met with fierce opposition from the Australian Brumby Alliance, which launched legal action to stop the plan.
The group argued the plan to remove the horses should have been referred to the federal environment minister because they were part of the cultural heritage of the Australian Alps.
They argued brumbies had a significant connection to myths, stories and legends of the alps, particularly with their role in Banjo Patterson’s famed poem and Elyne Mitchell’s Silver Brumby novels.
‘The brumbies are not directly referred to in the National Heritage values and are only indirectly referenced through the literary works of Banjo Paterson and Elyne Mitchell and other references to the pastoral history of the Australian Alps,’ Justice O’Bryan said.
They had also claimed some of the animals should be protected as a special horse breed because they had distinct features.
‘We’ll continue fighting for the brumbies. Their small populations in Victoria’s eastern alps are an irreplaceable part of Australia’s cultural heritage,’ Australian Brumby Alliance president Jill Pickering said.
‘Brumbies are a significant part of Australia’s history that is vital to preserve for future generations to experience. We will not rest until we have done everything to save sustainable populations.’
The organisation was ordered to pay the costs for Parks Victoria and the application was dismissed.