Premier Gladys Berejiklian is putting family lives at risk ahead of this year’s snow season by failing to act on growing feral horse numbers in Kosciuszko National Park, freedom of information documents have revealed.
“The number of feral horses roaming the Snowy Mountains Highway on the way to popular family ski resorts is frightening,” said Richard Swain, Reclaim Kosci campaign coordinator and Snowy Mountains local.
“Our freedom of information request has revealed alarming crash statistics involving feral horses in Kosciuszko National Park, grisly photos of dead horses littering the Snowy Mountains Highway and growing anxieties from the people who travel this road for business and to reach the snowfields.
“Lives are on the line and if action is not taken to reduce feral horse numbers in Kosciuszko National Park it will only be a matter of time before we see human fatalities.”
In 2018 Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s government passed a law that protects feral horses in Kosciuszko National Park in a move designed to appease brumby advocates and her deputy premier John Barilaro.
“Families planning a trip to the Selwyn Snow Resort now face the very real possibility of colliding with a feral horse on the Snowy Mountains Highway,” Mr Swain said.
The FOI documents reveal an increase of feral horse collisions averaging five feral horse collisions a year in the Kiandra area alone since trapping ceased in the area. Kiandra is part of Kosciuszko National Park and close to the Selwyn Snow Resort, which is billed as a ‘wonderful destination for a family snow day’.
“The Kiandra area is especially dangerous and we are warning all families driving in the area to slow down and be on high alert for feral horses,” Mr Swain said.
“We have already seen a high number of feral horse collisions on the road to Selwyn Snow Resort, crashes that leave drivers and witnesses traumatised.
“Terrifying collision reports include horses rushing out of the darkness, colliding with cars and smashing headfirst through car windshields.
“The animals are often not dead following a collision, and both the horse and driver are left in distress until assistance arrives, which on these roads can take upwards of an hour.”
The NSW government’s has completely halted feral horse control in Kosciuszko National Park for the past 20 months and the National Parks and Wildlife Service has been unable to implement their own risk management plan to reduce car accidents and injuries on the Snowy Mountains Highway.
The plan used trapping and the removal of feral horses from roadside areas to prevent injuries from road accidents. If implemented, the risk of injury from car collisions with horses on the Snowy Mountains Highway would have been reduced from high to moderate.
“The number of feral horses on the Snowy Mountains Highway is a ticking time bomb,” Mr Swain said.
“With no risk mitigation in over a year and a half, who is going to be responsible when we see the first deaths from car collisions with horses?
“So far we have only had serious vehicle damage and personal injury, but with more and more families expecting to visit the popular Kosciuszko snow fields and the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service unable to control increasing numbers of feral horses in the park, a human fatality is becoming increasingly likely.
“We are calling on the NSW government to commit to drastically reducing feral horse numbers in Kosciuszko National Park, or they will continue to risk the lives of local families and holidaymakers,” Mr Swain said.
“Feral horses on our roads are dangerous and life threatening for everyone involved.”