Wild horse populations pose a significant threat to alpine and sub alpine areas across the Alps. However in NSW, a campaign to have the horses protected because of their ‘cultural’ status means that impacts are growing significantly within Kosciuszko National Park. Now horse removal from the park has stopped for a second year in a row because of an intervention by NSW Deputy Premier, John Barilaro.

Andrew Cox, the Invasive Species Council CEO, has called this a “shameful back-down for a government claiming to prioritise protection of the environment.”

According to an Invasive Species Council media release:

“It is now almost two years since the last horse was removed from Kosciuszko National Park.

“Horse numbers continue to breed up, undoing years of good work attempting to reduce the numbers and impacts on the national park. NPWS are now powerless to act.

“John Barilaro declared in Parliament on 2 June 2018 when debating the new law that protects horses in the national park, ‘Trapping and rehoming programs will continue—they will not end.’ ” said Mr Cox.

Before the March state election, Deputy Premier Barilaro promised an ‘immediate’ 50 per cent reduction in horse numbers in the park.

“Since then, all we have received from the Deputy Premier have been lame excuses.”

“The incoming NSW environment minister Matt Kean had taken a strong interest in the horse problem in Kosciuszko, making it his first site visit on his listening tour.

“At a meeting between minister Kean and the Invasive Species Council and Reclaim Kosci representatives, the minister confirmed that trapping and horse removal would take place this winter, just as it had every year since 2008.

“The Deputy Premier can no longer be believed to act to reduce horse numbers. Instead we can only expect the opposite. His direct interventions have stymied action, putting the national park at risk.

“It is now over a year since the Kosciuszko Wild Horse Heritage Act became law.

“While the new law protects horses in the national park, it is yet to be implemented due to the failure to establish the community advisory panel and the lack of progress in developing a Wild Horse Management Plan that would be signed off by the environment minister.

“Kosciuszko National Park is lurching towards a crisis.

“The Berejiklian/Barilaro government is failing to protect the park’s threatened wildlife, the safety of its visitors and its priceless natural values,” said Mr Cox.

For further information, check the Reclaim Kosci website or check previous Mountain Journal stories.