Environment Minister Rob Stokes has been corralled by the pro-feral horse lobby into pre-empting the results of a public consultation on ways to control the Snowy Mountains feral horse explosion that is destroying sensitive alpine habitats.

The minister has ruled out the most effective control measure—aerial culling—six months before the draft Wild Horse Management Plan for Kosciusko National Park was due to be released for public comment, and just four days after a major part of the initial public consultation concluded. [1] [2]

“It is entirely inappropriate for the Minister to rule anything in or out before the public consultation process has run its course,” said Kevin Evans, CEO OF the National Parks Association of NSW. 

“Aerial culling is the most effective measure that parks managers can use to bring brumby numbers under control.”

“It defies logic that the government would eliminate this management tool as an option before the problem has been thoroughly examined, especially when the booming mountains brumby population is causing so much damage to sensitive alpine habitats.”

Dr Oisin Sweeney, Science Officer, the National Parks Association of NSW said a report by researchers Graeme Worboys and Ian Pulsford last year showed that feral horses were severely damaging streams and swamps in alpine catchments that deliver flows into the Snowy and Murray rivers. [3]

“The feral horse population in the Snowies has exploded since the 2003 bushfires, despite live capture and removal by park agencies,” Dr Sweeney said. “We have a responsibility as custodian of these magnificent areas to use whatever ethical methods we can to control destructive pests, whether they be feral pigs, rabbits, goats, or horses.”

“There are thousands of feral horses now loose in the Snowy Mountains causing serious and potentially permanent damage to sensitive alpine forests, streams and bogs. These places have been included in the state’s reserve system because they deserve the highest level of protection.

“If parks managers are not allowed to use aerial culling to control these pests, we may never get on top of the problem and these unique alpine environments will be changed forever.”

“It is lamentable that the Minister has bowed to pressure from the pro-feral horse lobby and the National Party to nobble his own expensive consultation process.

Feral horses harm the high country by overgrazing, trampling vegetation, compacting and eroding soils, and destroying stream banks, sphagnum bogs, and wetlands.

Click here to view images of some of the damage being caused by wild horses. 

[1] The initial stage of consultation on the Wild Horse Management Plan for Kosciusko National Park. https://engage.environment.nsw.gov.au/protectsnowies
[2] Government Plan For Wild Horse Management, 19 December, 2014, NSW Environment Minister Rob Stokes. [Copy attached.]
[3] http://invasives.org.au/files/2014/02/Pest_Horse_Impacts_to_Australian_Alps_Catchments_Worboys_and_Pulsford_2013.pdf

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