The three-year anniversary of the Kosciuszko Wild Horse Heritage Act has left John Barilaro’s promise to solve Kosciuszko’s feral horse problem within two to three years unfulfilled while a growing horse population continues to damage the national park.
“Deputy Premier John Barilaro has proven firsthand that his Kosciuszko feral horse protection law is an environmental, political and cultural failure,” Reclaim Kosci spokesperson Andrew Cox said.
“On the third anniversary of the environmentally disastrous feral horse law, Kosciuszko National Park remains under extreme pressure from 14,000 horses and the new horse management plan dictated under the legislation is nowhere in sight.”
Not long after the feral horse law was passed by the NSW Parliament in June 2018, John Barilaro told Ten News, “Judge me in two to three years’ time when for the first time in two decades you will actually see a reduction in horses we’ve never seen before.” (1)
Today Reclaim Kosci finds the NSW Government guilty for failing to protect Kosciuszko by not delivering the promised new feral horse management plan required under the Act.
As recently as March 2021, Mr Barilaro told NSW budget estimates committee he supported quickly reducing Kosciuszko’s feral horse population by 11,000 horses or about 80%. (2)
A 20-year analysis (3) of feral horse counts in Kosciuszko National Park provides compelling evidence that the so-called ‘horse removal program’ has been an abysmal failure and without decisive action the horse population will continue to grow and horses and other wildlife needlessly suffer.
“Under the current trapping program it would take 50 years to remove 11,000 horses at the average trapping rate, and 17 years at the 2012 removal rate – the highest ever. Every year the population grows by about 18%”, Mr Cox said.
“The Deputy Premier’s advice could only be correct if the removal of 11,000 horses from a rugged national park was completed instantaneously and immediately.
“Mr Barilaro continues to make empty promises. While we’ve waited three years for effective feral horse management, the herds of horses keep growing, the options to protect native habitat from absolute destruction become narrower and, out of necessity, more dramatic”, Mr Cox said.
“Horse sightings in Kosciuszko are no longer a rare novelty. If you visited Currango Plain in the 90s it would have been hard work to sight a horse. Now, herds of horses surround you as you drive past the historic Currango Homestead. Currango Plain and its sensitive wetlands are trodden by at least 1300 horses at last count.
“The community is running out of patience. The Berejiklian Government must urgently release a new feral horse management plan that will protect Kosciuszko’s natural and Indigenous values for future generations,” Mr Cox concluded.
Note: The Kosciuszko Wild Horse Heritage Act was introduced into the NSW Parliament by Deputy Premier John Barilaro and passed by both houses of parliament on 6 June 2018.