Today’s two-year anniversary of the passing into law of the NSW government’s damaging brumby protection bill has seen horse numbers in Kosciuszko National Park rise to their highest level yet.
Reclaim Kosci marked the occasion by reiterating their call for the repeal of the law protecting the feral horse invaders.
“This is one of the most environmentally damaging pieces of lawmaking in the history of NSW,” said Andrew Cox, Reclaim Kosci spokesperson.
“If candidates for the Eden-Monaro by-election want to prove they care for the environment, they need to call for action to protect the electorate’s iconic Kosciuszko National Park.”
“Tourism, jobs, catchments, Indigenous heritage, motorist and camper safety, and wildlife are under serious threat.”
“The 2018 horse law is a failure. In the two years since the controversial bill passed into law the feral horse population has increased by thousands with only 99 horses removed![I]“
Meanwhile, Reclaim Kosci, representing scientists, farmers, former park rangers and the environmental lobby have reiterated calls for the repeal of the law.
“The forces of nature dictate numbers have to be properly managed in the interests of protecting Australian native species now gravely threatened by the 400 kilogram hoofed invaders,” according to Richard Swain, Invasive Species Council Indigenous ambassador.
“One thing can be certain, the feral horses are behaving in a manner true to their reputation of eating like horses and removing what remains of the alpine plains and meadows,” said Mr Swain.
What’s more, the legislated retention of feral horses in Kosciuszko is based on mythical support, supposedly drawn from the famous ‘Man From Snowy River’ poem by Banjo Patterson.
The reality is Banjo himself warned if the early settlers “didn’t get rid of the horses the horses would get rid of them”.
“The wild horses got to be as big a plague as the wallabies and rabbits were in later times,” Banjo said. With the last official count in the park of about 20,000 that plague situation is now here.
A new report[ii] by three distinguished protected area specialists who returned to five long-term survey sites earlier this year found that feral horse damage was the “worst ever observed in the 4o years of personal observation.”
The authors identified “unprecedented, pervasive and destructive feral horse impacts” over 43 km of treeless drainage lines and in federally listed endangered bog and fen vegetation communities.
ANU Professor Jamie Pittock, said there were glass display enclosures at Taronga Zoo and Jindabyne of threatened alpine species and without urgent action to control feral horses in the future they would likely be the only examples of these animals our grandchildren would be able to see.
“Never in their wildest dreams did the park founders ever envisage the park being overrun by feral horses as it is today.
“The work of thousands of volunteers, scientists and rangers over the decades since is rapidly being undone by the explosion in feral horse numbers” Mr Pittock said.
- Vision for download includes large mobs of feral horses and interviews with fifth generation farmer Peter Davis, Prof Jamie Pittock and Invasive Species Council CEO Andrew Cox
- New damage photos and report comparing damage to field sites seven years apart
[I] We estimate the horse population grew by 7,000 in the last two years based on the information provided in the last scientific survey. This was calculated by taking the estimated 6,000 base feral horse population of Kosciuszko National Park determined by the 2014 aerial survey (Cairns 2014) and increasing it by 23% each year. If this exponential rate of increase is applied from 2014, in the two-year period 2018 to 2020, the population increases from 13,700 to 20,800 horses, a 7,100 increase. The 2019 aerial survey (Cairns 2019) found that across the entire Australian Alps, horse numbers had increased 23% each year over the five year period 2014-2019. In northern Kosciuszko, it was found that the population had increased by 37% each year in the same period.
[ii] Pulsford, I., Worboys, G.L. and D. Darlington (2020). Revisiting Observations of Pest Horse Impacts in the Australian Alps, March 2020, Canberra. Available at: https://theaustralianalps.files.wordpress.com/2020/05/revisiting-pest-horse-impacts-to-australian-alps-catchments-2020.pdf