After public consultation, the Protection of the Alpine National Park – Feral Horse Action Plan 2021 has now been released. This is the Victorian Government’s new plan to ‘improve the management of feral horses and reduce the damage they cause to vulnerable natural and Aboriginal cultural values in the Alpine National Park’.
Unlike NSW, which continues to be beholden to demands from some to keep feral horses in the Snowy Mountain national park, Victoria has taken a stronger position.
Parks Victoria say:
The conservation threats and pressures in the Alpine National Park have been exacerbated in recent years by damage from feral horses, deer and other feral animals, extensive habitat loss from the Black Summer bushfires, accelerated impacts of climate change and the limited progress of previous feral horse management methods.
The Victorian Government is obligated to control feral horses in the national park, and it is now more important than ever to ensure we are doing our best to protect the rare and sensitive landscapes in the Victorian Alps.
The Feral Horse Action Plan 2021 follows the Protection of the Alpine National Park – Feral Horse Strategic Action Plan 2018-21, building on previous feral horse management experience, public consultation in 2018 and 2021, and consultation with independent veterinary, welfare and ecology experts. A response to the feedback received through the most recent public consultation is available at Engage Victoria, engage.vic.gov.au/alpine-feral-horse-action-plan.
A key component of the Feral Horse Action Plan 2021 is to maximise rehoming opportunities for captured horses. To date, there has been limited response to repeated and direct public calls for interest in this program. Therefore, additional control methods will be necessary to reduce the damage caused by feral horses including tightly managed shooting and construction of small-scale exclusion fences.
In response, James Trezise of the Invasive Species Council said “The Victorian Government’s new plan to reduce destructive feral horse numbers in the Alpine National Park will see horses removed entirely from the Bogong High Plains and a significant reduction in the eastern Alps population.”
“It is vital feral horses are removed from sensitive alpine wetlands, including areas along the Bogong High Plains, and this plan aims to do just that.
“Victoria and the ACT are leading the way on the management of feral horses in the Australian Alps. In contrast, the NSW Government has proposed to retain a large population of feral horses in Kosciuszko, including along the Victorian border. This is simply exporting the problem south and is a major concern.
The Victorian National Parks Association said:
Parks Victoria’s plan to control feral horses is backed up by many decades of alpine science, and the integrity and depth of those studies have been recognised by Australia’s Federal Court.
We’re pleased to see such a comprehensive, evidence-based approach to protecting our alpine treasures.
The group Reclaim Kosci says:
The key aspects of the plan are –
– continue to trap feral horses for rehoming to the extent that suitable rehoming applicants can be found.
– implement the most humane, safe and effective horse control techniques, including using professional shooters, to remove feral horses ranging across areas of high conservation value.
– conduct all horse management operations according to strict standards for animal welfare and public safety.
Reclaim Kosci say: “The Victorian plan also includes aerial shooting in limited circumstances (section 4.3).
ACT released their plan in Sept 2020, Victoria has now finalised their plan – it’s time for NSW to catch up and turn words into action!”
You can view the Feral Horse Action Plan 2021 at www.parks.vic.gov.au/projects/feral-horse-action-plan-2021.
HEADER IMAGE: Nick Clemann.