Large herd of Kosciuszko horses after the fires.

Claims made by NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro on ABC South East radio yesterday that the summer bushfires had devastated the population of feral horses in Kosciuszko National Park are not only misleading but defy the course of nature.

“Feral horses in Kosciuszko National Park and elsewhere breed at 15 to 20 per cent a year and most people aware of the natural course of nature would be aware of this,” Reclaim Kosci spokesperson Andrew Cox said today.

On ABC NSW south east local radio news yesterday John Barilaro called for a halt to horse removal until a new survey was done due to “a devastation on the [feral horse] population”.

“Driving along the Snowy Mountains Highway and counting a couple of dead horse carcasses as Mr Barilaro did is hardly a match for a professional and scientifically audited survey of the Alpine regions to determine horse numbers, which was done last year.

“The feral horse population would have increased by many thousands since numbers were surveyed in May 2019, so any claimed impact of the fires and drought would have been more than offset by natural increases since the survey was carried out.

“What’s more, over 65% of the park was unburnt, including the northern end of Kosciuszko National Park, which harbours most of the horses.

“What is clear if you take the time to walk a short distance off the highway at Kiandra is that many feral horses are being true to their reputation of ‘eating like horses’ and have been the first animals to move back in and are already destroying the re-growth.

“Where there are thin pickings feral horses can be seen grazing on aquatic plants on the Eucumbene River bed.

“NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro should do more than wind his window down in the now 80 km/h zone over 38 kilometres of the highway, a speed limit necessitated by the herds of horses wandering across a sometimes busy public road.

“He should heed the advice of the scientific community and support an end to grazing by hard-hoofed animals in Kosciuszko National Park.

“Mr Barilaro should end his postering for perceived short term electoral gain and back a long-term environmental preservation strategy for Kosciuszko National Park rather than imposing his sorry brumby preservation legislation on Kosciuszko and the people of NSW.”