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numbers are reduced until there is no damage, damaged areas are restored and the Kosciuszko Wild Horse Heritage Act is repealed.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.
This is a great start!
We need to get rid of all feral animals in NP where we can! All of them.
The declaration of “horse retention zones” for Byadbo and Pilot Wilderness areas is grossly inappropriate. It directly impacts walkers in the Bundian Way and thus defeats many years’ work by John Blay and the Eden Aboriginal Land Council in reconstructing this millennia-old route from Bilgalera (Twofold Bay) to Targangal (Mt Kociuzko). This project and the route itself is documented in Blay’s book “on Track” and his guide book “The Bundian Way, walkers’ maps and track Notes”.
The intention of that project is to create a significant cultural and educational experience and a source of income for the Eden Aboriginal Land Council. The complication of horse hazards and landcape destruction will severely impact that objective and should be kept in mind for future planning.
Horses intrude on this track throughout the Pilot and Byadbo areas. Members of my walking party from Sutherland Bushwalking Club were accosted by an aggressive stallion near Cascade Hut. Defending his mare and foal, this stallion threatened two walkers with rampant hooves before retreating in the face of brandished walking poles. Further down the track at the crossing of the Ingeegoodbee River, an extensive horse-wallow was found. John Blay notes that in the Byadbo Wilderness on the Tombong map many dead horses were found in dry creeks flanking the ridge climb between Joe Davis and Sheep Station Creeks to the Divide Lookout. This area is dangerous to horses as well as walkers.
I have not personally walked this section of the Bundian Way because our party was blocked by floodwater in the Snowy River and had to re-route to enter Byadbo from the Delegate road.
We need the horses out of Byadbo and The Pilot, not maintaining a rapidly breeding population.
I am absolutely appalled that the feral horse plan does not address 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.
Horses are not a natural part of this national park and while they may have played a part in history of the area, that era is well past and it is nonsense to continue to allow the existence of horses as a remembrance or marker of that heritage. Repeal the Wild Horse Heritage Act now and have the gutz to address the whole issue given that it will not be well-accepted by the pro-horse lobby.