Wild horses, along with other feral species, have inflicted enormous damage on the alpine and sub alpine environments of the Australian Alps for decades.
There has been a long campaign to have numbers of horses reduced, which has been resisted by people who claim the horses have a ‘cultural’ claim to be in the mountains.
However, the current NSW government has continually failed to act to protect the NSW High Country, by refusing to support horse removal programs. (In a surprise move, the NSW environment minister, Matt Kean, recently announced that ‘about’ 4,000 feral horses will be removed from Kosciuszko national park as ‘part of an emergency response to protect the alpine ecosystem after large areas were devastated by bushfires’).
One of the key points used by opponents of horse removal is the claim that numbers of horses are inflated by proponents of removal. This has been a dominant argument used by pro brumby groups in both NSW and Victoria. Conservation group Reclaim Kosci has just released information received through a Freedom of Information request, which shows the size – and growth – of the horse population in the Northern Snowies.
The following information is taken from the Reclaim Kosci media release on the issue.
|There’s no denying the truth. Figures released today under FOI reiterate the fact that Kosciuszko horse numbers are climbing, and a solution is desperately needed.
The new figures, obtained by Reclaim Kosci under NSW Freedom of Information laws, show that the feral horse herd swelled from 2,144 to 3,110 between June 2017 and September 2019 – IN JUST ONE SECTION of northern Kosciuszko National Park.
That’s an increase of 966 destructive horses in northern Kosciuszko just over two years – or a whopping 45 percent.
There are more than 20,000 feral horses across the whole of Kosciuszko National Park, and this number was largely unaffected by last summer’s bushfires.
|Data source: NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment
|Feral horse management looms as a major issue in the lead-up to this Saturday’s Eden-Monaro federal by-election, with independent polling commissioned by The Australia Institute showing that the majority of local voters want horses removed.
The feral horses chew the delicate alpine vegetation to the ground and trample streams and bogs with their hard hooves, destroying the unique alpine landscape and turning the park into a paddock.
“The more feral horses, the more this iconic Australian national park is being degraded beyond recognition. It’s that simple,” Reclaim Kosci campaigner Anthony Sharwood said.
|“In 2018, NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro pushed through the Kosciuszko Wild Horse Heritage Act, an unprecedented piece of legislation which enshrined in law the protection of a feral animal in a national park.
“Mr Barilaro recently called for a recount of feral horses in the park. Well, here are the numbers – a 45 percent increase in two years in just one small part of Kosciuszko.
“We know that the fires which scorched a third of Kosciuszko National Park last summer had almost no impact on the overall herd, and we know that they just keep breeding and feeding.
“The plants, rivers and wildlife of Kosciuszko can’t cope in the face of an onslaught of 80,000 hooves.
“Rare, beautiful creatures like the corroboree frogs are now on life support in plastic peat moss containers at the threatened species recovery program at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo.
“If the explosion in feral horse numbers is not swiftly controlled, that’s the only place you’ll be able to see them.”
|Source: Department of Planning, Industry and Environment
|>> Download the latest horse count map
The annual aerial count conducted by the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service records horses sighted over selected open plains in northern Kosciuszko National Park.
A QUICK NOTE FOR THE ANTI CULL PEOPLE
I’ve been getting a few people posting that the numbers are incorrect. Please note: if you feel aggrieved by the stats, please take it up with the Parks Service and the Dept Planning, Industry and Environment. These figures were released through Freedom of Information and are government figures. Getting cross at me for posting them here doesn’t change that.
I work with Friends of the Earth, and live in Castlemaine in Central Victoria, Australia. Activist, dad to Tali & Mia, mountain enthusiast, climber, telemark skier, volunteer firefighter.
July 2, 2020 at 8:10 am
Would love to see photographic evidence of all these brumbies. Anyone can make a graph up.
[Let’s unpack this comment from Carol.
In effect she is accusing the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, a government authority, of ‘making things up’. If this is a real allegation then surely she should be contacting the NSW government to express her concerns]
July 2, 2020 at 8:22 am
Can I ask where you’re getting your figures from in the wild horse numbers ?
Please check your Facts before publishing an article not very professional
[hi Patricia –
did you even bother to read the article?
If you did, then you would see that the figures come from the annual aerial count conducted by the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service. Accusing someone of being ‘unprofessional’ without bothering to even read the story is lazy]
July 2, 2020 at 2:10 pm
Actually, for a page like ‘Mountain Journal’, which at least implies some form of professionalism, to call somebody that comments “lazy” is more akin to acting ‘unprofessional’. Further, to not even have the courage to sign your name and the end of the comment is cowardly! And for Carol & Patricia – you won’t see any photos from this mob because there are none! These figures were produced using outdated software and it was conducted from an extremely biased group, as was the so called “Poll” who have a very clear agenda!
[Note from Cam.
It is amazing how often the pro brumby people do this: make a comment without bothering to read the actual story. So here we go, again:
– if Patricia had bothered to read the article before posting a comment she would have known the source of the info (NSW Parks Service). So, yes, lazy is a good word to use
– my name is clearly noted at the bottom of the original article
– as the article clearly shows, this was a ‘fly and count’ operation, not a desktop study, so I’m not sure what ‘outdated software’ has to do with the results of the count
– the flight was done for the NSW Parks Service and the data was provided by the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, so if you think these departments are ‘extremely biased group(s)’, you’re probably better off complaining to the NSW government than complaining here. ]
July 2, 2020 at 2:23 pm
I would love to see a count of deer in the park. Also I would like to know how they can be certain about the numbers of horses burnt to death in the fires in 2019
[Sorry, I don’t have the answer to these questions. As the article makes clear: the Freedom of Information request was made by the Reclaim Kosci group. The Parks Service are probably aware of both the number of deer and impact of the fires on horse numbers. Might be worth asking them directly].
July 4, 2020 at 5:14 pm
If as you state brumby numbers are exploding,can you please explain how intelligent people who visit the site,will contradict this opinion,walker’s,photographers,that since the devastating fires fewer brumbies are seen,they know and recognise the animals.And sooo many are missing .?Perhaps if you got out of your offices and saw for your self you would realise what a huge mistake you are making,Ps what will you tell your children,about who exterminated the brumby?
[A note for Gillian. Did you bother to read the article? If so, you would see that the work was done by Parks and Wildlife Service and the information was accessed via a Freedom of Information request made by the group Reclaim Kosci. So you really need to ask them. We are simply reporting on the Reclaim Kosci findings. Why do you assume we are ‘sitting in offices’ (tired cliche #763). Out of interest, when were you in the northern Snowy Mountains last?].
July 7, 2020 at 2:42 pm
So it’s interesting that you have answered each query as a Reclaim Kosci member would. An extremely biased article. Professionals it would have been ethical to fairly present both views of this volatile issue.
NPWS figures have been proved wrong repeatedly as have the ‘scientific’ claims and fancy diagrams by RK – the main reason they couldn’t stop the Brumby Bill originally is because it’s all based on a great deal of untruths and fabrication. Had you done your homework you would have found that out and professionalism would have driven you to present an unbiased article. Or maybe that’s not the intention to start with.
[From Cam. hi Sally, as you note, the figures are from Parks via a FOI that Reclaim Kosci did, so if you want to argue about their validity, then you’re probably better off talking with them.
This is a pro environment blog – we make that clear in our ‘about’ section and our content. So we support the removal of large invasive species like horses and deer and have covered the issue from that perspective for years. Are you demanding that pages that take an anti-cull position and exclude other positions also run ‘unbiased’ stories? Probably not.]
July 7, 2020 at 8:43 pm
So I have read your Rules and read above your approach to this Site above. So perhaps I rephrase my earlier question/statement in another way. Can the Author of the above article please justify the information presented therein to do with a reported increase of 45% of the Brumby Population over a two year period? (when that is actually impossible to achieve in the circumstances).
hi Gary, thanks for taking a more civil tone with this post.
If you read the article you will see I clearly say:
‘The following information is taken from the Reclaim Kosci media release on the issue’.
The information is provided by Reclaim Kosci. You really need to ask them this question, as I am not the author, I have reposted their material. They are easy to find, but here is the link: https://reclaimkosci.org.au/ ].
July 7, 2020 at 11:55 pm
No reply to your reply option herein for me hey Cam? I checked the link you sent me and I see the ‘ínformation’ comes from a Mr Sharwood and Mr Cox. So it all makes (non)sense to me now, but thanks for listening/posting. Gary