Like climate and energy policy in Australia, the alpine environment of the Snowy Mountains has fallen victim to a bizarre culture war. Conservative political parties have pandered to small groups of backwards looking constituencies, and ignored their obligations to the broader community. In the case of the Snowy Mountains, the NSW Coalition have sided with groups who think that wild horses have a cultural value that trumps their negative ecological impacts. So they have declared that feral horse populations should be protected and allowed to keep growing in numbers within the park. As a result, there has been no trapping of feral horses in the park since August 2017.
This is a poor decision on ecological grounds, and a major campaign has been mounted against this decision. Now the state government has ‘blinked’ and said they will start to remove some horses from Kosciuszko National Park and ‘rehouse’ them. However, the Invasive Species Council has warned that this plan will ‘barely make a dint in the growing number of feral horses running rampant in the park’.
The following media release comes from the Reclaim Kosci group:
“Feral horse numbers in Kosciuszko National Park have been allowed to explode under the direction of NSW deputy premier John Barilaro,” Invasive Species Council CEO Andrew Cox said today.
The plan to restart horse trapping and rehoming was revealed by the NSW government on Monday when announcing the appointment of a community advisory panel under the highly controversial Kosciuszko Wild Horse Heritage Act.
There has been no feral horse trapping in the park since August 2017 despite the destruction of Kosciuszko National Park from feral horses and the growing risk to motorists and campers.
“However, the latest plan is too little too late. Trapping and rehoming on its own will not stop the horse population from growing. The NSW Government needs to urgently remove large numbers of horses.
“Prior to the March state election, deputy premier Barilaro promised an ‘immediate’ 50% reduction of horse numbers in the park. We are still waiting.
“Trapping and transporting horses to abattoirs is recognised by animal welfare experts as one of the most humane population control methods available where transport is over short distances. Other options which meet animal welfare standards will also need to be deployed to reduce horse numbers.
“Re-homing a small number of feral horses from Kosciuszko National Park as the only control option is doomed to failure. It cannot keep pace with feral horses breeding up in the park.”
The Invasive Species Council joined leading conservation groups in November last year in calling for a boycott of the NSW Government’s call for nominations for the Wild Horse Community Advisory Panel. The groups warned the panel would value introduced feral horses over the best interests of Kosciuszko National Park and its native wildlife.