Do we need a wild horse sanctuary?

by Catherine Russell, about 3 years ago
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 The idea of a wild horse sanctuary has been proposed throughout this review of the Wild Horse Management Plan. To explore this further, could a wild horse sanctuary exist in the National Park? How could it be funded and operated? What benefits and considerations might a sanctuary present for the management of wild horses?

THIS TOPIC WAS OPEN FOR 14 DAYS CLOSING ON THE 13 NOVEMBER 



Bio-Brumby about 3 years ago
I’ve been meaning to give an overall response to this topic. I agree with RKR 30-Oct-2014 that 'we already have a brumby sanctuary it’s called the KNP'. While a sanctuary to preserve KNP Brumbies is interesting, I feel we could soon degrade true Brumby characteristics as I’ll try to explain below. To me, the qualities that make the Brumby so special have come from over 200 years living wild with no human selection controls; such as 1. Survival of the fittest, 2. Living in natural family mobs which pass on survival and social skills to Brumbies of future generations, and 3. Provide a unique opportunity to see for ourselves how horses that have reverted back to this special state now live, interact and survive as a species. It is hard for humans to leave Brumbies to live ‘naturally’ in a sanctuary, unless it was the same size as the KNP they currently live in. That said we do need to keep Brumby populations to a level the environment can cope with. Furthermore, how can we be sure that a new area designated as a Brumby sanctuary will not be classified National Park as occurred a few decades ago with KNP, then the same issue starts again. Regards, Bio-Brumby
RKR about 3 years ago
Great topic, except that we already have a brumby sactuary its called the KNP that up untill the wild (feral) humans from the city decided that they had a better vision for the KNP then the people that have lived in the area for almost 200 years. I note that it hasnt costed a cent up until the ferals (not thier place of origin) from the city chose to waste taxpayers money in an effort to change the vision of the majority that where happy with the way thigs were.
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InterestedObserver about 3 years ago
So then the question should be, "Do we need a sanctuary for our unique native species that are threatened by horses and the other species we have introduced over the last 200 years?"Haven't horses been shot for most of the last 200 years in the area now known as KNP? It's only since the ferals from the city arrived that shooting has been stopped. Shouldn't we continue these cultural practices, just aligned with a 21st Century approach to welfare and humaneness (and adapted to better deal with the higher numbers now)?Or should those that want to retain horses in the current sanctuary for native species (KNP, despite the threats that exist) stump up the costs for the management of the animals they want to retain?I don't agree with my taxes being wasted on maintaining a feral population on public land, to the detriment of the native species that belong there. If you think they need a sanctuary, donate to the HVBA or re-home a brumby or two thousand at your place. There already is a brumby sanctuary just south of Jindabyne. How many sanctuaries are required for a widespread, over-abundant species?
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Donna about 3 years ago
There is no legitimate reason we cannot have both. I don't agree with my taxes being wasted on inadequate management plans designed to eradicate a species from the park without considering the implications.
Themba about 3 years ago
Have to point out that the horses are still being shot in the park, the "ferals from the city" have not stopped this. Why would you need a sanctuary for native species when they are already living and breeding in the same park as the "feral" horses? Native and introduced species living side by side creates biodiversity in the environment and in turn enables both to continue to live and thrive. A mix of native and introduced species is a natural course of evolution and both animals and plants adapt to survive without any assistance from humans..
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peter_mcc about 3 years ago
I don't think NPWS is shooting them for management purposes - I thought they killed the odd trapped horse that wasn't in good enough condition to transport.If that's the case then they are being shot by people acting outside the law and, of course, those people should be caught & prosecuted. Just like the people who are releasing new horses into KNP (from http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/bushtelegraph/4723832 )"We get a stallion and breed it up here until it's about three years old, give it a shot of hormones and let it go. And some of these coloured ones we'll let them go out in the bush again as well. We like a bit of colour in the bush. - Ken Connley, Brumby Runner".I'm not sure that a blanket statement about native & introduced species living side by side in harmony is valid - there are some introduced species that don't seem to provide any benefit I'm aware of (pigs, for example).
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Themba about 3 years ago
I didn't say that NPWS were shooting the horses. The shooting I believe is being done by hunters and the odd idiot who want to shoot "something big". Yes it is illegal shooting but catching them in such a large park is near impossible. The dead horses are quite often only come across by accident and days or weeks after the fact.Not sure what benefit the pigs would provide, maybe a study has been done? Unless studies are done you wouldn't know what benefits they provide until they are all gone and then it would be too late to reverse the damage..
InterestedObserver about 3 years ago
Introduced species becoming over abundant, to the detriment of native species, isn't creating biodiversity - it's reducing it. The native species are still there despite the horses presence, not because of it, and ever decreasing habitat isn't causing them to 'thrive'. If the horses don't do any harm, why are parks spending $1000 to (essentially, because there aren't enough people rehoming them) send each of these horses to the knackery if they could be such a financial windfall? Surely someone, somewhere in parks, government, department of Agriculture, Univerisities or scientists generally would say, "Hang on, there's no evidence these animals cause harm, why are you spending so much to try ( but fail) to manage them effectively?" Out of interest, how many of the native species from kozzie are thriving in horse paddocks around the country?Human's introducing species into new areas is by no means natural. We've done it, now it's our obligation to fix it before our record of extinctions gets worse than it already is. That's our obligation in regards to weeds and other pests. The same standard should apply to horses.But back to the topic at hand. Horse sanctuary in Kozzie? No thanks. Horse sanctuary out of Kozzie, while feral horses are effectively managed in Kozzie? Yes please (provided tax payer funds aren't being used to control the feral horse in Kozzie AND conserve the feral horse elsewhere).
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Themba about 3 years ago
The overabundance of any species is a detriment to the environment, just look at humans for example. Species numbers rise and fall as a natural part of things unless you take away predators, which the horses have in the form of wild dogs/dingos.What evidence do you have that the native species are still there despite the horses? If the horses haven't caused species extinction in nearly 200 years I think it is highly unlikely to happen now unless humans help it along?You would need to ask NWPS why they spend money on removing the horses. Would they be spending that money do you think because they know it is a good and cost effective way to manage the horses? Do you think they would be spending that money if they thought it made no difference and they could spend the money on something else? Hmm, good question. Not sure what kozzie species there are in horse paddocks around the country sorry, other than wombats, possums, birds, snakes, rodents, kangaroos, wallabies, insects, etc..The way humans have introduced species into new areas it not natural in that we do it suddenly, in nature it would take much longer but it stil happens.
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InterestedObserver about 3 years ago
Horses don't have any natural predators in Australia except humans. And because humans aren't employing effective controls they are overabundant. Any population level control dingoes might impart on the horse is, at best, insignificant, as evidenced by the problem of overabundance we have now.I believe some surveys show that lots of native species are still there despite the horses. However their habitat is significantly impacted and how much longer they will persist is anyone's guess. Human's have caused many extinctions in Australia in the last 200 years, through the introduction of feral species, land clearing etc. Surely we should be doing everything we can to prevent further extinctions, rather than just saying "whoops, guess we were wrong about horses helping native species thrive in kozzie" at some stage in the future. Admin hasn't answered regarding money. I doubt they think it's a cost effective way to manage the horses. How could anyone think that? I think the answer is, no one thinks control shouldn't be happening. The bean counters would be going ballistic if their was any evdence that horse control wasn't warranted. Maybe NPWS is obliged to do something about the horses, becasue they are a pest. If they were allowed to do something more cost effective, they'd have more money to spend on blackberry, pig and other pest problems, and less horses needing to go to the knackery.Any broad toothed rats, corroborree frogs, mountain pygmy possums in those paddocks? No? Then maybe we should make more of an effort to keep kozzie for them. And I'm sure the wombats, rodents, snakes and roos aren't thriving with the lack of grazing, and the impacts of baits, firearms and shovels to contend with. If only there were that many controls available for feral horses.I don't think many horses would have swam here on their own. Perhaps when Australia collided with Asia through tectonic movement horses may have naturally colonised the area now known as KNP. But then the predators would have followed too.
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Themba about 3 years ago
Actually the dingoes and wild dogs do prey on the horses, particularly the foals. What evidence do you have of the horses "overabundance"? Humans have been employing effective controls on the horses for years which is why there is no population explosion. I find the argument of "the horses are everywhere" really quite amusing.Again, I say, if there has been no native species extinction during the almost 200 years of the horses being in the park then how can you use that as an argument? Humans have caused many extinctions in Australia and we are still doing it, there is no point in blaming another species for it to make ourselves feel better. What evidence do you have that the horses have no benefit to the environment and native animals in the park? Don't you think it would be worthwhile to find out this before we remove them all and then go "whoops, we were wrong, what have we done!".If parks didn't think trapping and removing the horses was cost effective (and were able to substantiate this) they wouldn't be getting the funding to do it, that's how government works. I don't believe anyone has said there isn't a need for horse control on these forums. The debate has been about WHAT TYPE of horse control is the more cost effective and humane.Sorry, I thought your question "horse paddocks around the country" was referring to any part of the country. If it was a "horse paddock" smack bang in the middle of the Park it would most likely include the animals you mention. Not sure I understand "And I'm sure the wombats, rodents, snakes and roos aren't thriving with the lack of grazing, and the impacts of baits, firearms and shovels to contend with." Not trying to be rude, I just honestly don't understand what you mean.The only thing (I believe) that stopped Australia having a natural population of horse species is that they weren't developing in that part of the planet at the time the continents were still attached.
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InterestedObserver about 3 years ago
They might prey on the odd foal, maybe even a very weak adult, but given that the combined impact of man and dog isn't preventing continued increases in the horse population, they aren't very effective. The evidence of overabundance is in the park. You can acquire this evidence by looking at the number of horses visible, and the extent of their impacts. It does seem though that you need to be open to the idea that horses could cause an impact.Many of our extinctions are a direct result of our introduction of feral species. We should attempt to fix this if it is possible, and controlling horses is possible. What do we lose if we remove the horses? Nothing. We could always put them back (like other countries are doing) if we get that wrong. What do we lose if don't control horses? A lot of natural heritage, that you can't replace. I'd rather be wrong when taking the reversible option, than take the option that we can't fix later. Do you honestly think $1000 per horse is cost effective? Does anyone in parks? I certainly don't, and must have been giving parks and government too much credit. And if it's not preventing population growth, it's not effective on any level. To continue to shoot down (no pun intended, honestly) effective methods of control, promoting only techniques that clearly will not control the horse population seems silly. If/when fertility control becomes viable, will that option still have support?That was my question. My point being that we only have a small and unique area for our native species, while horses have the run of much of the world. The current horse paddock that is kozzie should be managed to protect the species that don't live anywhere else. Wombats and roos are shot, snakes shovelled and shot, and native rodents poisoned when they encroach onto horse paddocks and other farms. Why shouldn't similar (yet more humane) controls be applied to horses in national parks?Totally agree regarding australia's natural horse popualtion. If that had of occurred we would also have natural predators of those horses, and our native species would have evolved with those horses. Maybe the sabre toothed rat would have kept them in check.
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Themba about 3 years ago
What evidence do you have that control by human and dog isn't preventing increases in the horse population? So, are you saying that if I go into the park and see 10 horses and their hoofprints then that means there is an overabundance of horses? I agree the horses cause some impact but I don't see how that corresponds to their being an abundance of horses in the park? Personally, I like to see evidence rather than just believing what people say. I beg to differ, my observation is that the extinctions in Australia are the direct cause of humans, just look at the dwindling Koala populations due to the destruction of their environment for example. You appear to be quite happy to see the horses removed and not worried about finding out first if there will be any negative impact on the environment by doing this. Would you be happy to find after the horses are removed that a native species was relying on them for survival?The statement "We could always put them back" appears a little shortsighted considering that the Kozzie horses are unlike any other horse in Australia or the world, bit hard to put them back after the fact.I do actually think that $1000 per horse is cost effective with regards to passive trapping. What evidence do you have that this method is not preventing population growth or effective on any level? Interesting that you mention fertility control as an option.Contrary to what you appear to believe, horses do not have the run of much of the world. In fact, many horse species are on the brink of extinction. Why do you think it is that "we only have a small and unique area for our native species", surely the horses haven't destroyed everything else? Not sure what paddocks you have visited but it doesn't really sound much like the ones I have seen.Haven't heard of a Sabre toothed rat sorry, would have been wonderful to see though. Has it occurred to you that humans are not native to Australia?
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peter_mcc about 3 years ago
Evidence for increasing numbers - the various counts that have been done showing that the numbers are going upEvidence for increasing area - they have been able to include the Byadbo area in the aerial count now because the horse densities have increased to a point where it gives meaningful dataEvidence for increasing damage - take a look at some of the photos in https://www.flickr.com/photos/91914657@N08/sets/72157640131136784/ and compare the stream from 1986 to 2014. There are lots of horse prints and evidence of horses in the damaged areas. What do you think has caused the change?You're right that humans are a huge cause of extinctions. Part of that is due to direct environmental destruction (ie bulldozing forests) but part of that is also due to the introduction of "feral" animals/plants into an environment that cannot cope with them. I keep seeing you bring up the argument that removing the horses might have a negative impact on the environment. Do you have anything at all to back up that idea? Saying that there is no research to disprove it sounds like clutching at straws - much like someone who said Santa was real because there was no research to prove he doesn't exist.
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HVBA Vice President about 3 years ago
Actually, the evidence for the increasing numbers is a little controversial. I wanted to do a comparison of means to find out if when you looked at the error of the four counts you could say that they were statistically significantly different, but unfortunately the only information missing from the reports, is that which is required to do this comparison of means...interesting. When you just look at the data, and graph it, with the error bars on, you find that the 2001, 2009 and 2014 data all have overlapping error bars, meaning that those populations are actually not statistically significantly different from one another. The only count that doesn't overlap its error bars with anything, is the count done in 2003 after the bushfire. It wouldn't be surprising if the population was significantly lower after a fire, but without the missing information, I can't actually do that test and find out (when error bars do overlap, you can say there is no difference, but when they don't overlap, you can't say eitherway just by looking). I find it so strange that this test hasn't been done in the actual reports, considering this is the entire point of doing the counts in the first place.As for increasing area, just because they decided to use new transects, (which actually means you shouldn't compare the counts because they have been taken from different regions, just as I wouldn't compare a count of brumbies in the Hunter with one from Kozi and then conclude because they are different this means the population in either area has changed over time, that doesn't make sense) doesn't necessarily mean the horses have expanded their area, just that the people have noticed them there and decided they should count them too.
Themba about 3 years ago
My question was relating to the "abundance" of horses in the park. The various counts you mention don't indicate a huge increase in their numbers and you yourself have stated you have gone a day without seeing the horses so I would hardly call that an "abundance". I don't believe I mentioned anything about the supposedly "increasing area". Do you think they included Byadbo in the count because they hadn't covered that in the past perhaps?I would say a great part of humans being the cause of animal extinctions in Australia has been due to environment destruction. Human greed appears to outshine any other consideration unfortunately.I keep bringing up the argument that removing the horses may have a negative impact on the environment because I am simply amazed that anyone who cares for the environment would not even consider the possibility before calling for the eradication of an animal. It's not clutching at straws, it is simply thinking about the consequences of removing the horses. What harm could it do to look into it and ensure we don't make a huge mistake! Those wanting the horses gone at all costs are (in my opinion) sticking their heads in the sand and not thinking about the future.
InterestedObserver about 3 years ago
Evidence of increase? The surveys for one. But all you have to do is go for a walk in the park, and the damage & impacts are plainly obvious. As this wasn't the case 30 years ago, I'd suggest the population isn't decreasing. And it wasn't the case 200 years ago, and shouldn't be the case now. Yep humans do a lot of damage, but part of that is through the interoduction of feral species. In this case we can easily reduce the probelm if effective controls are allowed to be used. The koala is threatened by habitat loss, dogs, vehicles, fire and probably a couple of other things. Removingone threat (like dogs) helps their chances of survival. The same goes for native species in kozzie - reducing the impact of horses will help them survive the other threats we throw at them (eg climate change).2000 horses removed over last 5 years = $2 000 000 spent on horse control. Surveys estimate a propulation increase in that time. Obviously this control is not effective at preventing population increase, and if it's not effective it can't be cost effective. It's essentially a waste of money, although it is providing some horses for rehomng, a lot of dog food, and slightly slowing the population increase.I think the term you're after is horse breeds - the species is not on the brink of extinction. They are over abundant outside of their natural range, and we should rectify this where we can, with a priority focus on areas like kozzie where the native species are threatened by the horses and other factors, but don't have anywhere else they can live.
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Themba about 3 years ago
The surveys, as you would have noticed, have a large margin of error in them and they also state that double counting is more than possible. The surveys also vary greatly in the numbers they are predicting for the future so I wouldn't rely on them too much. I walk in the park often and don't see the damage you are contributing to the horses any more than I did 30 years ago! The horses didn't cause the extinction of native animals 30 years ago and they haven't done to date whether they are increasing or not.Unfortunately humans do a lot more damage to native animals than you appear to believe. The removal of dogs isn't going to help native animals like the Koala if we keep building houses and roads through their environment and breaking up their corridors of movement. As to the horses, removing them will make very little difference if we don't address the issues that humans are causing, it's not going to make the frogs have a population explosion.I don't agree with you that the removal of the horses is not effective at preventing population increase. It has obviously reduce the rate of population increase so therefore it is effective. If you believe the surveys you will notice that the predicted population increase has not been met by any means so I would hardly call it not effective.Yes, the term I meant was horse breeds. The species is not on the brink of extinction but a large number of horse breeds are. The natural range of a Kozzie brumby is the park, they are not found anywhere else in Australia or the world. If the native species in the park were really threatened by the horses being in the park they would have died out a long time ago. It doesn't take nearly 200 years for a species to die out if there is a threat.
Bio-Brumby about 3 years ago
Hi InterestedObserer, Instead of talking about excessive horse numbers as a problem, we should move on. Too much of anything creates problems. We need sustainable Brumby numbers, managed by fertility control where numbers are under 200, passive trapping, rehoming what is possible to responsible people and euthanizing unwanted Brumbies on site. Wild Horses in sustainable numbers, (not effecting the landscape robustness, or ability to seasonally recover), adds to Bio-diversity, reduces wild fire damage and increases landscape robustness. National Parks are for all Australians, as supported under the relevant Act. Regards, Bio-Brumby
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InterestedObserver about 3 years ago
What is a sustainable number?How can sustainable numbers be achieved if effective controls aren't available/utilised?
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Bio-Brumby about 3 years ago
Hi InterestedObserver, Good question. My reply to what is a sustainable number is the number at which if exceeded, leaves lasting, as opposed to seasonally recovered, damage limits. This will vary depending on each area of KNP. Identifying these area populations’ limits is what needs to be scientifically assessed so we can then manage horse numbers to that limit. Depending on the current numbers above the limit, yet to be identified, can then be selected from a range of options. Running out of battery power. Regards, Bio-Brumby
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InterestedObserver about 3 years ago
Recovery of the current damage can't occur until the horses are removed, or the population significantly reduced. So that doesn't meet your definition of sustainable.
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Bio-Brumby about 3 years ago
Hi InterestedObserver, this is why we need scientific assessment to identify the number of horses per location that the land can cope with. Without research on this, we have no idea whether removing horses is going to make any difference. May well be problems from Climate change, fire regimes, pigs, etc., and according to my understanding, wild horses do reduce the impacts of climate change via conservation grazing. Better to avoid just reacting on assumptions. Regards, Bio-Brumby
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InterestedObserver about 3 years ago
I think you might need some research to support your claim of beneifts of horses re climate change through conservation grazing. They may provide some benefits in other parts of the world, where horses belong, but according to my understanding horses don't provide any benefits to natural heritage in Australia.Drainage of bogs and waterways doesn't help in the face of fires or climate change, and selective grazing of palatable species, enabling the proliferation of less palatable species that burn hotter and harder, doesn't help either. They are both likely to result in increased fire frequency and intensity (as seems to be the case since european pratices (ie grazing) took hold) jeopardising the national park and the native species that live there and nowhere else.
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Bio-Brumby about 3 years ago
Hi InterestedObserver,Observations are already available in KNP/Victorian Alps areas as evidenced by the Cowambat exclusion zones. Inside the zones grow, tall, tough dry grass bio-mass on bare soil, prime catastrophic bush fire fuel. Outside the zones grow 2-4 inches high fresh green grass. The areas grazed by Brumbies are outside the zone, hence the shorter green fresh grass. As always we need populations are in balance. Manage the identified level so grazing can continue to benefit native species. Regards, Bio-Brumby
Perplexed about 3 years ago
With respect bio brumby again your statements and opinions around improvements to biodiversity, reduction of fire risk and landscape robustness are just that statements and opinions. There is no supporting science and in fact there is refuting science for the australian alps situation. Refer my references in the other threads. I would be arguing for minimal numbers rather than sustainable numbers. Any sanctuary for horses should focuses its efforts outside KNP allowing NPW to get on with the business of what it was established in legislation to do.
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Bio-Brumby about 3 years ago
Hi Perplexed, I was responding to your queries on sustainable numbers. Minimum numbers would lower the horses grazing capacity to assist bio-diversity, reduce wild fire risk and increase land robustness, hence sustainable or balance within identified limits gives optimum support. Check the fire management references in and . Thirdly, the Cowambat exclusion zones near the Vic Alps and Sth KNP border demonstrate that grazing increases species richness and bio-diversity. Inside the zones grow, tall, tough dry grass [bio-mass] on bare soil. Outside the zones grows green, nutrient rich, fresh grass grazed that provides a species rich bio-diverse landscape. Regards, Bio-Brumby
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Perplexed about 3 years ago
No fire references in your reply bio brumby would be interested in those because that is my area of interest? I would be very surprised to see any benefit from free ranging horses in KNP unless they were allowed to increase unchecked to the point of resource exhaustion and you have to question that is responsible management from a conservation and animal welfare perspective. As someone else noted elsewhere, yes grazing is useful for fire mitigation if it is restricted to a paddock around an asset such as a farm house or she'd, but in a free range environment such as KNP your stocking rate to achieve fuel reduction useful for fire management is completely counterproductive to the conservation objectives of the park. As for your reference to Cowombat I have not been there for years so really can't comment other than I have seen pictures and spoken to people who have indicating that horse impacts to the head and source of Australia's greatest river the Indi/ Murray is a disgrace that we should all be ashamed of.
peter_mcc about 3 years ago
How on earth are we going to get the numbers under 200? Trapping hasn't even been able to keep up with the population growth and apparently aerial shooting is inhumane.
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Bio-Brumby about 3 years ago
Hi Peter_mcc, I was not suggesting total numbers in KNP be under 200, only where isolated groups are CURRENTLY 200-300. Each separate section of KNP with horses needs a count, such as via the 2014 count. Then the management strategy for that population group, I.E. 200-300, 1,000, 800 etc., identify the population level for that KNP section that the ecology can cope with, and manage accordingly to that population level. Rehomers take what they have space for, and the rest put down on site. No one technique will be the answer in my opinion. Then continue to manage at the identified level annually. Hope this is clearer. Regards, Bio-Brumby
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peter_mcc about 3 years ago
That makes more sense as an idea. I couldn't see how the numbers parkwide could possibly be reduced to that level, no matter how many "helicopter gunships" they were allowed to use!
Native?? about 3 years ago
So you agree that the 'old' horse management by the generations of cattlemen and local folk should continue in your brumby sanctuary (KNP)??
Themba about 3 years ago
Admin, can I ask if the indigenous peoples of the Park have been consulted on the management plan? And, if so, what are their views on the subject if you are able to provide it? I would be interested to know how they feel about the subject given that they have centuries of heritage and history interlinked with the park.
Native?? about 3 years ago
The question do we need a wild horse sanctuary? We, as in the great wider community, no.We, as in the people who want wild horses, yes.So it’s a very simply management plan. If you want a wild horse, let’s make a list. Then all the people who love horses (be them feral or wild) can have one on their own property and you can look after it. Done. Why does the natural environment which has evolved free from a hard –hoofed 200-300kg animals have to keep paying for our mistakes from yester-years? Why does the endangered threatened community have to disappear into extinction? The science is real and the damage is evident.
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Bio-Brumby about 3 years ago
Hi Native, Agree we do not need a wild horse sanctuary, we already have one, as mentioned early on, it is called KNP. Let’s remember KNP is required to balance a range of interests, not just those who do not want wild heritage horses to be able to continue living wild as they have done for over 200 years. Living in domestic environments is not the same. A Brumby is unique because it has survived in the wild, without man's control. The family mod structures are something special to appreciate, along with many other species social structures. We need to have balance, the issues cannot be one sided. Hard hoofed animals well over 200-300 kg have lived on Australian soil, they are called Australian mega fauna. Regards, Bio-BrumbyRegards, Bio-Brumby
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peter_mcc about 3 years ago
Bri-Brumby - which Australian mega fauna were hard hoofed? All the ones I've seen info about have been soft footed.
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Bio-Brumby about 3 years ago
Hi Peter_mcc, The Giant thunder bird (demon bird) Genyornis newtoni was a large flightless bird from the Pleistocene era1.8 million to 40,000 years ago. It was considerably taller and heavier than the modern ostrich or emu, and had powerful legs and tiny wings. It probably most closely resembled its living relatives, ducks and geese. Instead of having webbed feet and a duckbill, though, Genyornis had large hoof-like claws on its toes and a big beak, which it used to eat fruit and nuts, and perhaps small prey. Regards, Bio-Brumby
Happy Jack about 3 years ago
I agree totally with what Colin says in the vidio. "Spot on!"So, NO! it is not appropiate to have a horse sanctuary within KNP. The National Park is not intended as a sanctuary for any non native species. (dispite how many times people say it is).However, that said, we must also recognose that if we do choose to reduce the wild horse numbers in the park, and continue then to manage their numbers into the future, so that their impact is maintained at an acceptabe limit, ... there will always be some wild horses in the park.That is the fact about introduced species, once introduced they can never be completely removed, without a massive effort, followed by complete isolation.
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Bio-Brumby about 3 years ago
Hi Happy Jack, support the need to keep impacts from overabundant Brumbies at an acceptable limit, a win win I'd feel.We need sustainable Brumby numbers, managed by fertility control where numbers are under 200, passive trapping, rehoming what is possible to responsible people and euthanizing unwanted Brumbies on site. Wild Horses in sustainable numbers, (not effecting the landscape robustness, or ability to seasonally recover), adds to Bio-diversity, reduces wild fire damage and increases landscape robustness. Regards, Bio-Brumby
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Perplexed about 3 years ago
I'm interested in your proposals for fertility control bio brumby. Just how do you expect this to be implemented? From what I have read the technology for delivery in a dispersed wild population like from what I understand exists in KNP does not exist with multiple inoculations required, therefore multiple round ups. From what I understand hundreds of pigs need to die for its production, it is only produced in the US and its use leads to other issues of herd structure altering, mares living longer because they never have the stress of pregnancy and the resulting damage continuing on our precious native ecosystems. Sorry I just don't see the point. Maybe in a horse sanctuary away from our important conservation reserves like KNP yes, but not where we want to reduce numbers as much as possible.
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Bio-Brumby about 3 years ago
Hi Perplexed, Fertility control has been used for over 30 years in the USA. A 3 year trial is in its final year for ponies living on Dartmoor. Can you provide a ref for the hundreds of pigs needed to die for its production? Australia has trialled GonaCon on kangaroos for some years, and PZP is imported into Australia for trials on cattle, and can be imported for viable costs under licence for horses. Application of PZP is via dart gun, no round ups needed, and currently lasts 2-4 years. Agree that it requires isolated smaller populations, but the science is improving each year. Australian scientists are developing a one off application and eventual oral delivery. Regards, Bio-Brumby
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Perplexed about 3 years ago
Refer here a different take on the slaughter of pigs to use pzp to implement fertility control on others: http://books.google.com.au/books?id=19fHPtD3TNgC&pg=PA119&lpg=PA119&dq=humaneness+of+pzp+for+pigs&source=bl&ots=bvZCMellf3&sig=xtRDv-wRbobNgLvYcJZZEGbxW9w&hl=en&sa=X&ei=gL1eVLDZOYaxmwWkkYHoDA&ved=0CC0Q6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=humaneness%20of%20pzp%20for%20pigs&f=false.Admitidly this is a US hunters view with as much conspiracy agenda as some from this debate promulgating government agendas against horses but does highlight the ethical dilemmas that need to be addressed. I think this reference here : http://www.pzpinfo.org/why_fertility.html and here are good ones for anyone who wants to make a true assessment of the realities of fertility control to address this problem. Free range inoculation by dart gun seems a very labour intensive and hit and miss affair therefore horses are mustered or gathered as I understand in US and NZ where fertility control is being applied to very small herds that are gather able. It does make me think that if imunocontraception or fertility control is the answer here, then why has the US not sorted out its wild horse mustang issue if it has been available to them for over 20 years? My reading is that they are in just as much mess as we are if not more, and spending money hand over fist, I think I read something like $17 Bil US and still no better off, so I dont not see contraceptive control as being the 'magic bullet' here anytime soon. http://www.sccpzp.org/wp-content/uploads/PZPspecs.pdf For me it may be part of it, just as aerial shooting, ground shooting, trapping, removal, re homing, mustering and even poisoning may be part of the solution. I don't think any of them should be dismissed.
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Bio-Brumby about 3 years ago
Hi Perplexed, Thanks for 3 PZP refs. Unclear why you say 'highlight the ethical dilemmas that need to be addressed'. My responses are;1st ref - Dated 2007 talks of 'Freezers stuffed with pigs ovaries from Iowa’s Slaughter house [Yes, HSUS would sterilise deer with the help of slaughtered pigs]' which implies to me that the pig ovaries are a bi-produce of pigs slaughtered for meat production, not specifically killed and thrown away to provide ovaries for PZP. Are you suggesting pork should not be eater? Also the ref talks of $500 to $1,000 per deer in 2007, but in 2014 cost is currently $3-$35 per shot, lasts 1-4 years and delivered by dart gun.2nd ref - Seems to me to support PZP, it states 'we are rapidly facing a point in time when a safe, humane and publicly-acceptable wildlife management paradigm should begin to replace lethal methods. The public demands it and the animals we have displaced deserve it'. It also states PZP vaccine is $10 - $25 per dose at present and is constantly being reduced as production becomes more efficient. 3rd ref - Has positive PZP information, no date, but most recent ref is 2008 so maybe produced 2009?You say PZP darting to be 'labour intensive and hit and miss affair', however this has been significantly refined since then. Brumbies do not have to be trapped, guns can be set to required distances and even recreation shooters are interested in deliver doses, instead of just killing. Agree we need an open mind on this option. NPWS could embrace trials to see for itself how effective it is in KNP. Agree that Fertility Control is one part of a total management picture, per my suggested steps. Regards, Bio-Brumby
Themba about 3 years ago
Um, I thought the NP was already a horse sanctuary along with being a sanctuary for all the other animals within it otherwise it would be legal to go in and shoot whatever animals you want? If parks are thinking of creating a horse sanctuary then they already have one that they need to manage more as a tourist attraction to make money so they can then feed that money back into the sanctuary.Yes, there are lots of horses in the world, some breeds are on the verge of extinction as well. The Kozi brumbies are a breed on their own. Wild horses are now being studied to better the lives of domesticated horses by observing how they interact with each other and how a horse acts in the wild without human intervention. This is helping to shape and create humane training for domestic horses taking into account how a horse communicates. Perhaps Parks could encourage study tours along these lines?The statement "People who don't really spend time in the mountains or know of the mountains probably think it is appropriate to have the horses here" I find quite bizarre. He clearly doesn't talk to many of the people living around the park who also think the horses should be there, its not just people who visit or read about the mountains.
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peter_mcc about 3 years ago
I would have thought a "sanctuary" was a place dedicated to the well being of something (animal/plant). On that basis KNP isn't really a horse sanctuary as it is not there for their well being - they are considered an introduced animal for which the ultimate goal should be elimination (as it is for feral deer, dogs, goats and pigs).
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Themba about 3 years ago
Actually the word "sanctuary" refers to a place of refuge or protection. In animal terms it refers to "a reservation where animals or birds are sheltered for breeding purposes and may not be hunted or trapped".
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peter_mcc about 3 years ago
So.. KNP isn't a horse sanctuary then, by your own definition, as they are trapped there.
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Themba about 3 years ago
It's actually a Dictionary definition, not my own. The trapping it refers to is poaching. The word Sanctuary is a very old word. In animal terms it is talking about a parcel of land set aside to shelter and breed animals and protect them from poaching. Sounds alot like KNP to me.
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peter_mcc about 3 years ago
This thread could go on and on arguing over definitions!KNP is definitely a sanctuary for native animals - just not one for horses. It isn't set aside to shelter, breed & protect horses.
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Themba about 3 years ago
Just what KNP is a sanctuary for is subject to personal opinion. You may believe that it should be sanctuary for native animals only but others obviously have a differing opinion and have the right to that opinion. People visit the park for many reasons that do not necessarily agree with your own.
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peter_mcc about 3 years ago
I was basing my opinion on what NPWS is primarily legislated to do.Not everyone's opinion is valid - including mine - if they are against what NPWS is supposed to do by law. For example, someone who thinks that 4wd's should be able to drive where ever they want whenever they want - I don't think that opinion is valid though of course they are welcome to hold it.I'll bow out now - apart from antagonising each other I don't think we're achieving much.
youngconservationist about 3 years ago
Please use non-inflammatory language.Please refer to moderation rules
HVBA Vice President about 3 years ago
So I am unsure what this video had to do with a Brumby sanctuary, interesting viewpoints, but it could have gone on the stories page because it seems mostly irrelevant to this particular question, it didn't mention a sanctuary at all.As usual there are a few assumptions that need to be addressed. 1.There is no evidence that the horses are the cause of any species going extinct. 2. The Kozi Brumbies are quite different from domestic horses bred in Australia, let alone those breeds found overseas, so the argument that they are not going to go extinct because there are other breeds of horse on other continents is invalid, breeds have gone extinct in the past, here are some wikipedia pages on extinct horse breeds http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Extinct_horse_breeds, is that what people want, another human caused extinction. I know it is a breed not a species, but the thing about horse breeds is that the majority of them are so inbred that health issues are becoming a problem, wild populations are an important source of new genetic information and before people get all up in arms about how inbred the kozi brumbys look with their big heads and skinny bodies, those ones are the growing babies, all horses look out of proportion when they are young. I remember having a conversation with a warmblood breeder about how much she hates two year olds because they look so ugly. Once they grow out, they are beautifully proportioned animals, in fact that is one of the things they are judged on in the show ring, while blood line is irrelevant in Brumbies, other than they must have "wild" parents, perfectly proportioned bodies and exceptional temperament are considered essential Brumby features.Anyway....back to the question at hand. This is definitely and interesting idea, I think it would be great to have somewhere that the Kozi Brumbies can roam free, but this doesn't mean they are going to be subject to less requirements for management, it would probably just remove the onus of that management from the NSWparks people and onto those running the sanctuary. I assume it would be like subcontracting out the management of the Brumbies to someone else. And on top of all that there would still be a wild horse population within the park, unless you somehow stop the migration in from surrounding state forests etc. This means that you would suddenly have two wild horse populations to manage instead of one. If you think for one second those advocating for the humane treatment of the Brumbies will let you aerial cull if you offer a small sanctuary for some horses, you've got another think coming. The opposition to Aerial Culling is due to its inhumaneness, this does not change just because a small number of Brumbies would be safe from it. Its a great idea when you first hear it, seems like a win win, brumbies are both out of the park and in the park at the same time, people can still see them, sensitive areas are protected, all sounds good, but logistically its a nightmare. Where do you choose to put that sanctuary, how do you decide that area is able to handle having horses while another in not. If you can determine this, you may as well just leave the horses in that area and focus on getting them out of another more sensitive area. If you try to fence an area and then muster all the horses into that area you would find that there wouldn't be enough food for all the horses and then you have a welfare issue on your hands. If you don't fence it, the horses will get out back to their original home ranges. I like the idea in theory, but I'm not sure it would work in practice.I would rather see appropriate management of the population across the park. Management that tackles all factors such as immigration, breeding rates vs death rates, natural predators (before you say there are none, you cannot tell me that a wild dog wouldn't steal the odd foal), rehoming, fertility control, targeted trapping (by this I mean taking those that have the biggest impact on population growth Dawson (2005) believes that to be adult females, this can be done by not opening traps in areas that are known to have only bachelor herds roaming there) etc etc and using all this information to reduce the numbers to a sustainable level across the park and keep them at that. Having the same number of horses across the whole park, as that which would be within the sanctuary would mean that they would do less damage due to decreased density. If you want to fund the HVBA, VBA etc to have bigger sanctuary's so we able to take on more horses, that is something I could definitely get behind!
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coastwatcher about 3 years ago
The answer to "uniqueness" of horses in the area is simple allow them to be DNA'd. However I understand the lobby doesn't want this for obvious reasons
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Bio-Brumby about 3 years ago
DNA testing would be fantastic, fully support it. Bio-Brumby
Donna about 3 years ago
I take it from the content of the video we're discussing a sanctuary within the confines of the park - otherwise there is no correlation between the video and the question that I can find. On that basis I would have to answer that I believe KNP to be the horses rightful sanctuary, it is only the area they inhabit and proven impacts we should be discussing. There has been acknowledgement from both 'sides' that the future existence of horses in the park is inarguable. Taking this into consideration, we have no where left to go but forward with a plan that is inclusive of the horses presence - it's how this will be achieved we're having real difficulty with I think.Proper evaluation,monitoring and management of their direct impacts, their favoured locations and any threatened species contained therein, along with the most humane population control methods and best practice policies should be the goal for both sides in my opinion.For arguments sake, I do believe there is a massive amount of untapped tourism potential in the establishment of an 'official' sanctuary within the park which would I believe offer many long term benefits on a financial level firstly, but also in terms of scientific research, educating visitors on the heritage value of the horses and the park as a whole, which would in turn benefit the park ecologically - 'users' of the park are likely to have a greater sense of responsibility toward its care and sustainability if they're educated about their role and the impacts they can have on the ecosystem. A sanctuary would also create the opportunity for local people to become involved in the care and monitoring of the horses and the park in a more hands on way; again with the flow on effect of a greater sense of responsibility creating better management in the long term.There are many success stories of this type of sanctuary and the financial gain to be had if established and managed correctly, though many are internationally based, there is strong evidence to support the popularity of seeing wild horses in their 'natural' habitat within our own country, not to mention the many scientific studies conducted on wild horse groups in Australia that have contributed positively to our knowledge of hoof care, genetics and herd/horse behaviour to mention a few.Mission Australia with the assistance of Greg Powell and the Youth off the Streets program has amply demonstrated the potential and benefits associated with assisting troubled youth to gain skills with horses that in turn enhance their skills in many areas, and has proven those skills are easily transferable to their every day lives. Perhaps there is funding available from another sector of Govt. focused on the development/improvement of youth that may ease the financial burden of establishing such a sanctuary and subsequent program/s? I see no reason to discount the idea if the horses continued presence is undeniable and this is a productive, financially viable solution.
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HVBA Vice President about 3 years ago
Great point about the tourism potential of a sanctuary! Another point on tourism, Kath and I were discussing last night about how great it would be if the Ski lifts ran over summer for people to be able to go Brumby spotting. They are definitely and untapped tourism resource.
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Donna about 3 years ago
Well that's a fantastic idea! Especially given the fact the ski resorts are so fond of the brumbies and publicise their presence whenever possible, something I think speaks volumes in itself - they're ALREADY an attraction, why not capitalise on it in order to raise the funds needed to maintain a sanctuary - in the end benefiting the park and the horses equally? In political terms I think they call that a "win/win" outcome ;)
Themba about 3 years ago
That would be an excellent idea and a great way to see the park in summer! Not sure who owns the lifts though, probably the ski companies I think but it would bring in additional revenue to the park and surrounding areas.
peter_mcc about 3 years ago
Having been to Thredbo in summer a bit I haven't ever seen a horse (or evidence of one) anywhere close to the main chairlift - the one they do operate. There is lots of evidence (aka piles of poo) on the walk down to Dead Horse Gap but the horses usually seem to steer clear because of the number of people.I'm not sure how the tourism thing would work given that the horses don't really seem to like humans. Unless we're talking of fencing them in I would have thought that the chances of them hanging around where people want to see them is fairly small.
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HVBA Vice President about 3 years ago
I find it interesting that you have not seen many horses on your visits to the park either, we barely see any when we go, in fact on one trip, our committee traveled all over the park for 8hours and saw one group of 3, one group of 10 and a couple of loan stallions, hardly the plague people are claiming. It was a Facebook post by Mt Selwyn Snowfields of pictures of their local Brumbies grazing on the currently green snow runs that prompted this conversation in the first place. But maybe they are there now because the tourist are not. Although they did post pictures of them there during the winter as well. We agree that it can be difficult for people to see the Brumbies because they are shy, but we thought that the distance provided by the lifts might make it easier to spot them, if they aren't seen from the currently operating one though, maybe this unfortunately wouldn't be the case. That's a pity because I'm sure they would be another great tourist pull for the area.
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peter_mcc about 3 years ago
They are around the Thredbo area but more towards the south side of Dead Horse Gap than the north side. The terrain around the ski fields isn't terribly horse friendly - it's pretty steep (which is what they want for skiing). Once you get to the top of the main Thredbo chairlift it's flatter but there are crowds of people walking up to Mt Kosciusko in one direction and smaller groups walking down to Dead Horse Gap in another.As you and others have pointed out the horses are fairly smart - I think they've worked out where the people are and generally stay away a bit. Being at Mt Selwyn during summer would be one way to achieve that :-) We went past at the start of October (still the official ski season) and there was no snow and no people. I think Mt Selwyn is also pretty flat, based almost on the top of a small hill. It drops 122m from top to bottom (800m long run) vs Thredbo 672m/5000m. Thredbo is the main "summer" resort - Perisher is dead.The location of the mobs seems fairly random too - in 3 days near Blue Waterholes we saw no horses the first day, a huge mob (25+) the second day and 4-5 mobs the third day. If you're going to sell them as a tourist attraction I think they'd have to be a bit more predictable.
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Donna about 3 years ago
Their unpredictability is what makes them even more attractive I believe. The harder they are to find or spot, the bigger the thrill when you do! That being the case, I think it would appeal to a great many people.
The longer we wait... about 3 years ago
Need? To preserve them? Well no because they're just horses. There are plenty of horse studs and stations already. And I'll heed no rubbish about their bloodlines knowing just some of the people regularly loosing new horse blood into Kosciuszko. Illegally of course. No better than pig hunters loosing earless pregnant sows. Worse because the fate of those horses and their descendants is on their heads. Supposed horse lovers. Ned Kelly meets Banjo Pat meets naughty, dangerous schoolchildren.Need? To resolve the issue of environmental damage? Well I do think so - I think it might also allay the tourism concerns. If it were to be in the park, I'm thinking Selwyn resort grounds: year round attraction, good pasture, already disturbed, somebody could offer trail rides through the 'wild' horse habitat. Of course the horses at Selwyn are so fat, glossy and lethargic they might not put on a convincing show... but there'd be ways around that.But better yet, I think, would be buy a degraded farm adjoining Kosciuszko and by degraded I mean native species habitat already lost. Fund one of the brumby adoption groups. Pay them handsomely - I know it's tax dollars to preserve a feral animal, but I think this compromise would pay financial and natural dividends. Once you set the sanctuary, remove every roaming horse from Kosciuszko humanely and systematically. Whatever the public outcry. Be responsible.A sanctuary would have to be accessible by sedan and tour bus. Near an airstrip would be useful because I think international and city interest is more than possible. I could really see somebody offering horsemanship demonstrations, ie this brumby ran wild just four days ago and now I can juggle fire on it's back. Actually two sanctuaries might be the go. Even three. Accessible from Canberra, Wagga Wagga and a coastal airport or something like that. Melbourne too. Even build an airstrip.I do think the government should pay to establish a sanctuary although I agree it's an illogical use of tax dollars as somebody else said here. But I think logic left this situation long ago and now it's time to think illogically and maybe get somewhere.It's not the horses' fault somebody released them 100+ years ago and people have released them regularly since then.But it's not the native ecosystems' fault that despite being declared a national park, nobody will protect them from the big, heavy, plentiful, dispersing horses.Would I visit a sanctuary? Yes absolutely. I'd bring visitors, I'd stay over, I'd buy souvenirs, I'd enjoy every last minute.Because you can love brumbies and see there is a problem needing solving. You can jump the emotional hurdles, grow up, and come to terms with the needs, means and reality of ongoing effective feral horse control.But the longer we wait, the crueler we are.
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Donna about 3 years ago
Well, I can't say I think that sarcastic diatribe is helpful to any constructive exchange, though I do imagine that was your point. Stand in judgement of those who care for the horses future in the park as much as you must, it is of little consequence to the outcome.
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The longer we wait... about 3 years ago
I'm not sure it's a sarcastic diatribe, but true to you on the 'little consequence' of my attempt at problem solving. People will always release more horses. That's on them and of course it's on the innocents--the horses.
HVBA Vice President about 3 years ago
Firstly, if you know anyone who releases horses into the park I urge you to contact the rangers and report it It is illegal as you have said and those doing it should be prosecuted!I agree with Donna that sarcasm doesn't help, but I'll ignore it and continue as if you were being mildly serious.It is accepted that removing every horse from the KNP would be impossible, so that bit of your "plan" won't work, as I've said before we would just end up with two populations that need managing.Interesting that you note the excellent condition of the Mt Selwyn Brumbies, I noticed that too when I saw their facebook post. These brumbies at least are not part of the population people on here have claimed are dying of starvation.As for nobody protecting the native ecosystem, what do you make of a consultation about the management of wild horses in the national park being called "protect the snowies" and not "protect the brumbies" or even "managing wild horses in the KNP"...
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The longer we wait... about 3 years ago
Thanks HVBA VP - I am being serious. I don't intend to sound sarcastic. I think multiple localised populations requiring management would be preferable to the current situation because I think they could be managed.Point taken on the native ecosystems. Although I think the word choices are as lost on them as they are on the thriving horses.
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HVBA Vice President about 3 years ago
That's an interesting point about multiple localised populations being easier to manage than one big one. Maybe Admin could provide some insight on if this could be true. If it is the case, perhaps we would be better splitting the populations into region and choosing management options based on those particular locations. For example, we know that on long plain when the horses that are currently inhabiting that area are trapped more horses move down into this "prime" grazing area. Trapping seems to work well here because it is flat and so access for trucks etc is quite good. This means that although it might look like the trapping is having little effect, we just can't see that the population in areas higher up with less grass are actually decreasing as they move down to fill the gap left by trapping. Another point about breaking up the population into localised groups would be that we could get the public to monitor the population growth of their local brumbies in different regions. We have found this very easy to do with our local Brumbies in the Hunter and we have noticed that a particular population has remained relatively stable over the past few years that we have been studying them, as such they do not yet require any management. If the local community could provide information of heard structure over time, we might find that there are some areas, where for example a large population of wild dogs is leading to reduced foal survival rates, and hence the population is stable, so there is no point trapping here, nature is doing its job. We might find other areas that have excellent food sources and the population in those regions is expanding faster than current removal programs can keep up with, so perhaps fertility control would help in this region. I think its an idea worth exploring anyway.
peter_mcc about 3 years ago
I know of one person who claims to do it in the media - see http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/bushtelegraph/4723832"We get a stallion and breed it up here until it's about three years old, give it a shot of hormones and let it go. And some of these coloured ones we'll let them go out in the bush again as well. We like a bit of colour in the bush. Ken Connley, Brumby Runner". I'm not 100% sure where he is based - it could be Victoria not NSW.Interestingly I just read the 2008 horse management plan - it doesn't talk of removing all the horses from the park just the horses from some areas. I'm not sure if that is something we're meant to be discussing or not (ie how many horses should be left). It leaves lots of areas for the horses to "roam free" or "trash" (haha depending on which side you take :-) )The Mt Selwyn horses aren't in a "horse free" area from the 2008 management plan so that idea might work. The problem is that it's fairly isolated in tourist terms. The horses north of Jindabyne (from 2008 management plan map on page 11) might be easier for people to get to. But even that is out of the way, especially because the Island Bend Fire Trail is gated at the KNP boundry.
jrw about 3 years ago
I think a wild horse sanctuary on a farm somewhere not in a National Park would be appropriate.