The Snowy Mountains Brumby Sustainability and Management Group (SMBSMG) president Alan Lanyon argues a draft Kosciuszko National Park Wild Horse Plan is flawed due to an assumption about the current number of horses in the park.
The draft plan for the management of wild horses in Kosciuszko National Park was released last month for public comment.
Environment Minister Matt Kean said the draft plan strikes the right balance between protecting the fragile alpine ecosystems and recognising the cultural heritage values of the wild horses. It proposes reducing numbers to about 3000 across the park. Some estimates have current numbers running at about 14,000, but Mr Lanyon hotly disputed that figure, and wants the target taken out of the plan. He wants a new horse count carried out, saying that numbers are actually already below 3000.
“NPWS is well aware that there is substantially less than 3,000 brumbies across KNP at the time of publication, indicated by successive horse count surveys carried out by NPWS in 2019 and 2020,” Mr Lanyon said.
He argues the plan had a number of defects, namely that managing the horses lies with the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
“The primary defect is that the Draft Plan still vests all control and management of the brumbies in National Parks and Wildlife Service, (NPWS),” Mr Lanyon said.
“This defect conflicts with both community expectations and a literal interpretation of the objectives and intent of the Act and can only be remedied by the appointment of a Community Advisory Panel and that Panel’s entrenchment as a permanent body within the final Plan.
“A further defect is that the draft plan fails to properly project the themes of cultural heritage and history and values accorded to the history of and the continued presence of brumbies in Kosciuszko National Park within the Plan.”
He said the ongoing rehoming program of brumbies does not get enough attention in the plan, arguing it’s silent on what assistance will be given to the individuals and organisation engaging in saving brumbies removed from the park.
“The brumby rehoming community is ‘saving face’ for NPWS and the State Government by actively reducing the number of brumbies being sent to slaughter whilst bearing considerable imposts on themselves.
“SMBSMG note the existence of unidentified “private rehomers” and question if these “private rehomers” constitute a conduit for brumbies to be sent to slaughter.”
Across the Park, the plan provides for three broad zones:
• Areas in which wild horses will continue to occupy – 32 per cent of the Park
• Areas from which wild horses will be removed – 21 per cent of the Park
• Areas which are currently free of horses and which will be kept free – 47 per cent of the Park.
The areas in which horses may continue to occur are those areas with the strongest links to wild horse heritage values and are areas with links to historic pastoralism, brumby running and include wild horses derived from historic pastoral populations, such as the Kiandra greys, and areas around Long Plain.
The removal and exclusion of wild horses from designated areas, and the reduction in the overall population, will provide effective protection from the impacts of wild horses for many threatened species, Mr Kean argues. These include the Northern and Southern Corroboree Frogs, the Smoky Mouse and the Broadtoothed Rat as well as a suite of important alpine and sub-alpine ecosystems.