Wild horse numbers in KNP to be culled to 3000

Wild horse management areas.

After years of back and forth, the final plan for the management of wild horses in Kosciuszko National Park has been released.

It will see horse numbers in the park reduced to 3000 by June 30, 2027, and restricted to several areas.

The State Government estimates there are 14,380 horses in the park based on a survey conducted last year.

Horses in Kosciuszko National Park has been a contentious issue for years and the government’s draft plan attracted more than 4000 submissions.

Environment Minister Matt Kean said the final plan strikes the right balance between protecting the heritage value of the wild horses and maintaining the exceptional conservation values of our state’s largest national park.

“Kosciusko National Park is a very special place that needs to be protected for future generations,” Mr Kean said.

“Today we release a plan that will finally provide protection for the numerous threatened species and the suite of important alpine and sub-alpine ecosystems that call Kosciuszko National Park home.”

“Based on consultation with scientific and community representatives, aboriginal stakeholders and over 4000 public submissions, we can finally deliver a clear direction for one of the most special environment’s anywhere in the country.“ 

The Plan provides for a staged reduction in the overall wild horse population from an estimated 14,380 horses in the 2020 survey to 3,000 horses by 30 June 2027. 

Across the Park, the plan provides for three broad management areas:

· 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 removal of wild horses will occur in accordance with best practice animal welfare requirements.

Member for Monaro John Barilaro said the plan was the culmination of years of work from a number of very passionate people who care deeply about the issue.

“I am so proud that we have been able to deliver certainty within my local electorate on this important issue, it has been years in the making” Mr Barilaro said.

“This final plan gives the everybody certainty by delivering a way to manage a sustainable population of wild horses in only very select areas of the Park, but more importantly it recognises their important heritage value for future generations.”

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 connections to historic pastoralism, brumby running and include wild horses derived from historic pastoral populations (eg, the Kiandra greys).

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.

These include the northern and southern corroboree frogs, the smoky mouse and the broad-toothed rat as well as a suite of important alpine and sub-alpine ecosystems.

Annual surveys of the wild horse population will help monitor progress toward the targets in the Plan.

The implementation of the plan is expected to begin immediately with the reintroduction of passive trapping and re-homing.

The plan won’t be reviewed again until 2027.

NUMBERS DON’T STACK UP FOR PRO-BRUMBY GROUPS

Pro-brumby campaigner Alan Lanyon argues that the numbers don’t add up in the latest wild horse plan for Kosciuszko National Park, while he’s also upset that shooting will be used to cull the horses.

Mr Lanyon, the president of the Snowy Mountains Brumby Sustainability and Management Group, said the decision to shoot horses would not be well-received by brumby advocates.

“I’d say just about every submission from pro-brumby supporters would have argued against lethal methods of culling,” Mr Lanyon said.

“The former Deputy Premier John Barilaro ruled out lethal methods during various speeches he’s made, so it’s quite disturbing to see it in there.

“It shows the current Minister, Kean, has caved in to the anti-brumby fraternity.”

Mr Lanyon is more concerned about the plan’s statement that there’s more than 14,300 horses across Kosciuszko.

He’s adamant horse numbers are already below that figure, arguing a National Parks survey last year put horses in the northern end at just over 1900.

A subsequent survey this year saw that figure grow to 3369, something Mr Lanyon said was biologically impossible, which he argues only highlights the problems with horse surveys.

Horse advocates have long disputed the accuracy of the surveys and Mr Lanyon said that remained the case.

“There’s just no credibility there for National Parks and Wildlife Services within the pro-brumby community,” he said.

“And there’s no accountability. That’s why many are disappointed that Kean has bloody-mindedly supported the anti-brumby agenda throughout the process.”

Mr Lanyon said the plan is a step towards a goal from the government and parks staff to remove the horses entirely from the park.

He expects trapping to begin soon and has implored the government to direct National Parks to work with community groups, like his, to humanely manage the existing horse population.

Pro-brumby campaigners have been effective in the past in protesting government control of horses in the park, Mr Lanyon said.

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