“We’re talking about an animal that’s in a different environment than it should be, and it should be removed.”
These were the strong, simple words from Councillor Peter Roper, Mayor of Victoria’s Alpine Shire Council and a fifth-generation member of a famous High Country family, speaking to Nine News this week.
Mr Roper’s decision to put his views forward on television comes at a key moment in the urgent fight to control the spread of feral horses across Australia’s High Country.
Last Friday, Victoria’s Supreme Court refused an application by feral horse supporter Philip Maguire to appeal a decision allowing Parks Victoria to remove feral horses under a management plan to protect native flora and fauna.
Now Mr Roper has addressed feral horse supporters like Philip Maguire directly.
“These horses are not [champion racehorses] Black Caviar or Winx. They’re just feral horses,” Mr Roper has told Reclaim Kosci.
“They don’t belong in the High Country, nor does any other feral species – deer, foxes, pigs, the whole gamut.”
Mr Roper, a cattle farmer, echoes comments voiced recently by NSW sheep farmer Peter Davis.
“There are some very vocal people in support of the horses, but I feel that the majority of people would rather see a national park kept as a national park,” Mr Davis told Reclaim Kosci.
“We simply can’t afford to have feral horses destroying it.”
High country icon or pest?
- During the time of the legend of the Man from Snowy River, it is believed there were only ever about 200 wild horses in the Australian Alps.
- There are now about 25,000 feral horses, with numbers more than doubling in the past five years.
- The feral horses chew delicate alpine vegetation closely to the ground and trample streams and bogs with their hard hooves, destroying the delicate alpine landscape and silting up rivers that millions of Australians rely on for irrigation and drinking water.
- Feral horse numbers are highest in New South Wales, where NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro pushed through the Kosciuszko Wild Horse Heritage Act in 2018.
- This unprecedented legislation enshrines in law the rights of a feral animal to degrade a pristine, iconic Australian landscape that is as important as the Great Barrier Reef.