Today NSW environment minister Matt Kean adopted a feral horse plan for Kosciuszko National Park that promises a significant reduction in feral horses, but leaves one third of the park overrun by this damaging invasive animal.
“We congratulate NSW environment minister Matt Kean for quickly finalising the draft horse management plan,” said Invasive Species Council conservation director James Trezise.
“But Minister Kean has been hamstrung by draconian legislation that requires the protection of feral horses in Kosciuszko National Park. The reality is this plan is a long way from what’s needed to solve the park’s horse crisis.
“Now that the plan is adopted the NSW government must get on with the job of saving Kosciuszko National Park from more than 14,000 feral horses.
“It is urgent to get boots on the ground to start driving down feral horse numbers in Kosciuszko.
“Key areas targeted for horse removal include Nungar Plain, karst areas at Cooleman Plains and Yarrangobilly, areas on the western park boundary and adjacent to the ACT border and Thredbo Valley.
“We remain deeply disappointed that 3000 feral horses will be protected in one third of Kosciuszko National Park, consigning areas to ongoing horse damage. This locks in damage to the Byadbo and Pilot wilderness areas in the park’s south, wetlands such as the vast Currango peat wetlands in the north and critical habitat of threatened species such as the northern corroboree frog, stocky galaxias and the broad-toothed mouse.
“The new plan sees the introduction of a broader suite of control measures to address the 14,000 strong horse population, including ground shooting to be implemented by trained professionals under strict animal welfare protocols.”
“The NSW government needs to explain why it didn’t strengthen the draft plan in response to the thousands of submissions calling for significant improvements.
“The final feral horse plan is almost identical to the draft version, with only minor changes to horse removal areas,” said Mr Trezise.
The Invasive Species Council and the Reclaim Kosci campaign will keep working to ensure that the promised horse reduction measures are implemented immediately, horse numbers are reduced until there is no damage, damaged areas are restored and the Kosciuszko Wild Horse Heritage Act is repealed.
The final plan and summary of submissions can be viewed here.