As the Eden-Monaro federal by-election looms, candidates in the July 4 poll have declared their stance on the Kosciuszko feral horse problem, in a report card commissioned by Reclaim Kosci.
Kosciuszko National Park sits entirely within the electorate of Eden-Monaro. At present, around 20,000 feral horses are destroying the park’s unique fauna and flora. We sent a questionnaire to all 14 candidates and we now know which candidates support removing the horses and which ones don’t.
- Seven of the 14 candidates want immediate decisive action to remove feral horses.
- The National Party has a track record of putting feral horses above the national park. Its candidate Trevor Hicks is one of just three candidates who failed to respond to the survey.
As the report card shows, most candidates support some sort of action to remove feral horses.
This aligns strongly with recent polling, which showed that the majority of Eden-Monaro voters support removing horses from the fragile high country – with just 13 percent urging no action.
“This is a magnificent and unique part of Australia that rightly belongs to all Australians, not just feral horse-lovers,” Anthony Sharwood from Reclaim Kosci said.
“Protection of Kosciuszko National Park is a critical federal issue. The park is a major employment generator for the region and a federal candidate must defend this national icon from destruction by feral horses.
“In 2018, NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro pushed through the Kosciuszko Wild Horse Heritage Act – an unprecedented piece of legislation which enshrines in law the rights of a feral animal to degrade a pristine, iconic Australian landscape which is as important as the Great Barrier Reef.
“Barilaro’s pro-feral horse bill is state law, while Eden-Monaro is a Federal electorate. But voters in the region can still send a message that protecting feral horses does not sit well with them.
“Locals say they overwhelmingly want a park, not a paddock. The Eden-Monaro by-election is a chance to cast a vote for a candidate who shares that view.”
Reclaim Kosci sent the questionnaire to all 14 candidates and received responses from 11.
HIGH COUNTRY ICON OR PEST?
- During the time of the legend of the Man from Snowy River, it is believed there were only ever around 200 wild horses in the Australian Alps.
- There are now about 25,000 ferals across the Alps in NSW and Victoria, with numbers more than doubling in the last five years.
- Feral horse numbers are highest in New South Wales, with around 20,000 in Kosciuszko National Park – the largest park in the state.
- 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 which millions of Australians rely on for irrigation and drinking water.