Concerns raised for brumby welfare

Brumbies in the Kosciuszko National Park.
 Photo: Stuart Cohen, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage.

Brumbies in the Kosciuszko National Park. Photo: Stuart Cohen, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage.

A SNOWY Mountains horse management group is concerned the NSW Liberal/Nationals Coalition Government has not honoured it’s agreement in initiating a new brumby management strategy at the Kosciuszko National Park (KNP). 

A memorandum of understanding (MOU), signed by Liberals Peter Debnam and Nationals Andrew Stoner, and a coalition of NSW horse riders dated November 20, 2006, sets out the agreements reached by the groups. 

President of the Snowy Mountains Brumby Sustainability and Management Group (SMBSMG) Alan Lanyon said the most important clauses regarded the rights of horse riding for recreation, and care and protection of horses.

• Clause 2a states the removal of the prohibition against horse riding in Wilderness and Nature Reserves within three months of coming to government.

• Clause 2b concerns adopting a new plan of management in six months of government to reinstate horse riding to all reserve areas previously been permitted, prior to being classified Wilderness or Nature Reserves. 

• Clause 10 seeks to recognise brumbies as part of the cultural heritage of NSW, protection viable populations and outlawing shooting as a management tool. 

Mr Lanyon said the “issue had been trawled over for years” and there was “no more science to shed light on the issue”. 

Since Europeans came to the areas with their horses 160 years ago, he said the horses had adapted into the biodiversity. 

In a recent field trip to the southern end of the KNP with National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) rangers, Mr Lanyon said he found “no degree of damage” or population size that had been previously claimed – and estimated there was around 500 brumbies in the area.

According to Mr Lanyon, claims brumbies impact on the native biodiversity, by such factors as spreading weeds and compacting soil are just “generic claims”.

He said they do not compact soil, sufficiently break down weed seeds in their digestive tract, and are “herbivores, not carnivores”.

Mr Lanyon said the NPWS currently uses trapping strategies to control the brumby population, but he has concerns about how the trapped horses are treated. 

Mr Lanyon said there was a possibility aerial culling has taken place by the NPWS after finding horse carcases with bullets shot from obtuse angles.

But he “can’t say they have done aerial culling” as a management strategy, and just wants the NSW Government to commit to banning it.  

“We are prepared to look at other ways of population management,” he said. 

He suggests this could be having an agreed number of a sustainable population of brumbies in the Snowy Mountains, keeping the population in check with a humane trapping program. 

Mr Lanyon said the SMBSMG had contacted members of the NSW Government such as Member for Bega Andrew Constance, Member for Monaro John Barilaro and Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner with an open letter dated June 4, 2014, however issues raised in the MOU hadn’t yet been addressed.

Mr Lanyon said the best outcome for the SMBSMG would be if the NSW Government committed to a sustainable population which flowed on to a comprehensive management plan. 

A Community Interest Meeting will be held on July 12 at Lake Jindabyne Hotel from 1pm where Mr Lanyon said the issue of the future of brumbies will be well and truly canvassed.

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