Have you read the recent article by The Guardian? What do you agree with or disagree with?

by Catherine Russell, over 3 years ago
Thank you for your contribution to this discussion. You can still view the material and the discussion. While this discussion is closed, new discussions will continue to open till 30 November 2014.

Gabrielle Chan from The Guardian takes a comprehensive look at management of wild horses in Australia's high country. The battle over Australia's brumbies 

She starts: It’s been a hard winter for Australia’s wild horses. But things may be about to get much worse for these totemic animals. Their swelling numbers are damaging the continent’s precious alpine ranges ...

THIS DISCUSSION WAS OPEN FOR 14 DAYS AND CLOSED ON THE 4 SEPTEMBER. 



  • Bush lover about 4 years ago
    The article is reasonably comprehensive in its description of the situation. Yes, horses are a historical part of Kosciusko NP, but the current numbers are way above historical levels. Many seem to forget that the graziers who first used the mountains often regarded the horses as a pest, and kept their numbers down. Being continually culled like that, no-one noticed.Since grazing ceased, the horses have had no natural culling other than bad seasons. This leads to situations like the one described, where horses die in agony because of inadequate food in difficult seasons.The article spends a lot of time on the emotional side, the romance of the "nag". (I refuse to use the B word on principle.)It seems to be a part of the Australian character that we long for times past, when life was simpler, we could feel good about ourselves. And seeing the silhouette of a horse on a hilltop takes us there.The world has changed. It is not the 1800s, nor the 1920s not the 1950s. It is 2014, and the rest of your life is in the future. Yes, it is nice to think of the romantic past, but you don't need 10000 horses to remind you. A few hundred, as there were in the 1950s, is all it takes.Where the article falls down is that it gives far too much emphasis to the emotional side of the situation. Just look for example at all the photos of horses in outstanding scenery, and horsemen riding and talking. Where are the pictures of the damage being done by the horses, small creeks turned into bogs, piles of dung every few metres, waterholes trodden down and muddy instead of crystal clear?What the article did not mention was the dangers to humans of this number of horses in the park. On a recent trip, my group was menaced by horses at times, as if we were invading their territory. Hut log books are full of reports of people being caught in horse stampedes while camped near huts or in other locations. One of my group made the mistake of drinking water from a beautiful, clear mountain stream, and had diarrhoea for four days. Forty years ago, you could do this safely.And it is not only walkers at risk. Horses are commonly found on roads, especially Long Plain. You can come around a corner and suddenly find six horses standing in the middle of the road. No-one drives fast on that rough gravel road, but equally it is hard to stop quickly no matter how slow you are going.A few years ago, I was driving in Barrington Tops at dusk. At a place where I knew horses congregated, I drove very slowly. Out of the dark, a foal came racing towards my car as if it was a new friend. By the time it reached the car, I was stopped, but it continued on and hit the front corner of the car. Repairs cost over $3000. Fortunately, the car was still (just) drivable. Otherwise I would have spent a very cold night in below zero temperatures.What concerned me most was that if the horse had been seriously injured, what would I do to put it out of its misery? The only thing I had was a hammer…..The Snowy Mountains Highway is much busier than where I was. And people drive much faster. I wonder how many people have been killed in accidents caused by horses?
    Hide Replies (2)
    • Colong Wild about 4 years ago
      Efforts to protect Australian habitats and species are being frustrated by a misplaced sentimentality that ensures horse suffering and environmental degradation are increasing, along with increased risks to park visitor safety. Some horse advocates that turn a blind eye to the environmental damage caused by feral horses and some even vocally assert these impacts are insignificant. I say to those advocates that each year without effective controls more feral horses will suffer cruel, lingering deaths from starvation. Each year more emaciated foals will die in spring. Those who oppose effective and humane controls really don’t care about horses, national parks or people. Yes, I support humane aerial shooting of feral horses. It is the right thing to do for the parks, people and the horses.
      Hide reply (1)
      • Buckrunner about 4 years ago
        Colong wild, all the brumby advocates are all for managing the brumby numbers but will not go to the extreme of Ariel culling and will not take full removal of the brumbies. The brumbies are our heritage and keep our touch on the mountain that we love just like you might.
  • Themba about 4 years ago
    I agree that grazing animals such as horses assist with reducing the fuel load for bushfires. I believe the 2013 fires could have been much worse if the Brumbies were not roaming the snowies. The ACT goverment have been using cattle to reduce fuel loads in Canberra where the grass is long.I don't agree with the estimated amount of Brumbies that are supposed to be in the park. If that amount was correct you would easily see them everywhere. From my experience of visiting the park, it is hard to find any brumbies! While it is sad to hear of animals starving to death we have to realise that this is a fact of life and animals do starve to death in the wild. This is the way that the fittest survive to continue the species.Personally, I believe that if the Brumbies must be culled then they should be culled quickly and painlessly in the park. I also believe these animals have a place in the environment and deserve to be there. If they were really doing as much damage as is being contributed to them then there wouldn't be any place in the park that was pristine and worth seeing, which we know is not the case.
    Hide Replies (8)
    • Bush lover about 4 years ago
      Themba, could you please provide references to a scientific study that will show that horses reduce the fuel load? That would really help this discussion.Actually, there is a lot of damage. It's in areas that cannot be seen from a car. Could I suggest you get out of your car and walk for a few hours into the bush near Dead Horse Gap and Tantangara if you want to see what is being done by the horses.
      Hide Replies (7)
      • Themba about 4 years ago
        Here are a few links for you to look at: http://www.ebparks.org/Assets/files/fireplan/ebrpd_whrrm_plan/Appendix_D_-_Fuel_Treatment_Techniques.pdfhttp://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fr249Can you please provide scientific evidence that the damage you are contributing to horses near Dead Horse Gap and Tantangara are in fact caused by horses and not other animals?
        Hide Replies (6)
        • Bush lover about 4 years ago
          Thanks for those references. Very interesting. I would observe that the first one seems to focus on controlling grass, with a lesser emphasis on shrubs and thinning trees. It is not clear whether they are referring to areas of at least 100 acres as they did for cattle grazing to which horse grazing is otherwise very similar.It says that horses do not prefer shrubby material, and of course cannot remove full-grown trees. While there are patches of grass in the thicker areas of the park, the vast majority is standing or fallen timber and shrubs up to 2 metres high.The article does also warn that horses can cause erosion problems, and there are potential risks from horses and humans in the same areas. It does not appear to have assessed the environmental damage associated with each method of fire hazard reduction either.The second article is referring to fire management in residential areas, specifically by providing small fenced areas with a high density of animals. It has limited application in an area the size and nature of Kosciusko NP.In any case, before animal grazing was ever considered for wildfire hazard reduction, there would need to be a "resource inventory and wildfire hazard assessment ... to identify wildfire hazards existing in the 17 Study Area parks and to serve as the basis for delineating treatment areas and the recommended fuel reduction and vegetation management goals." http://www.ebparks.org/Assets/files/fireplan/ebrpd_whrrm_plan/3-WHASummary.pdfSuch an assessment would be worthwhile for NPWS to consider, to assess whether horse grazing was a positive or negative contributor to fire hazards, and to assess whether the costs in terms of environmental damage were greater than the benefits.As for scientific evidence of damage by horses, I have photographs of horse footprints in mud. I also have photographs of piles of horse dung as far as the eye can see. I will be supplying these to NPWS today.In the meantime, here are photos someone else took late last year in the Pilot Wilderness which show the extent of horse damage.https://www.flickr.com/photos/91914657@N08/sets/72157640126733276/
          Hide Replies (5)
          • Themba about 4 years ago
            Thanks Bush Lover,By asking for scientific evidence of damage by horses I didn't mean photos taken by users of the park but actual evidence by scientist's trained to know the difference between the tracks and dung of horses and that of other animals like cattle.To an untrained eye, cattle tracks and dung can look very much like that of horses (I run both on my property in the snowy's and can vouch for this!). We need actual scientific data, not just the pictures taken by visitors to the park. It is very easy to blame one species for the damage and neglect the other animals in the park who also do damage.
            Hide Replies (4)
            • Bush lover about 4 years ago
              Perhaps NPWS will post some of the pictures I took so that experts like yourself can assess the evidence. I would also be happy to bring dung back for you to examine next time I am in the park.However, I have spent a fair bit of time in the bush where there are cows and horses, and do know the difference. Add to that the fact that there are hardly any cattle in Kosciusko NP compared to horses, and the chances that the extensive damage is from cattle are very slim.
            • Happy Jack about 4 years ago
              There are none so blind as those who will not see.Compelling photos from the Cowombat area. Thanks BL.
              Hide Replies (2)
              • Themba about 4 years ago
                Thanks Happy Jack, exactly my thoughts as well. If I showed you those pictures and told you they were made by an Elephant escaped from a traveling circus, would you race off to see the Elephant or would you question the comment because you don't see the Elephant in the pictures??We need to question and not just accept what people or government agencies say. Just because someone says "look at all the damage done by the feral horses" unless they can show actual proof of what caused the damage we should be questioning it.
              • Happy Jack about 4 years ago
                Unfortunately, I was there and saw the elephant, the circus and the resulting damage. Sorry but the horses are "guilty as charged!"
  • Themba about 4 years ago
    I really have to question the high number of wild horses that people are estimating, I have seen comments of 10,000 and up to 20,000. In 2005 a study was conducted on behalf of NPWS which put the then total at 1,700 horses in the park. Another report for NPWS stated that although mature mares are capable of foaling every year, they usually raise one foal every two years with the expected growth rate of 8% per year.Given the fact that not all foals would survive to breeding age due to predation or health issues and that a proportion of horses in the park are stallions or not of breeding age the estimate of between 10,000 and 20,000 wild horses currently in the park appear to be a large stretch of the imagination. Along with all that you also have Brumby runners removing horses from the park during the year which would also reduce the amount of horses. A study by Park Victoria found the 200 horses per year were being removed from the environment by Brumby runners alone.As to Aerial shooting (currently banned in NSW), it has been reported as only viable for killing large amounts of horses in open areas, with the cost increasing for smaller amounts of animals. Apart from being an extremely cruel way to attempt to kill an animal the costs also increase due to the need for the carcasses to be removed from the environment and follow ups on the ground to finish off injured animals which would take some time to do in rugged territory and cause more damage to the environment from vehicle traffic. There is also the issue of how do you ensure the safety of bushwalkers, hikers and campers in the park while the shooting is taking place!
    Hide Replies (6)
    • Bush lover about 4 years ago
      Themba, you and others keep questioning the number of horses. There is a survey going on at present which will determine this once and for all. Action will be based on the actual numbers, not estimated numbers, so questioning estimates that will be irrelevant soon is not productive.I would also point out that the study in 2005 showed there were "more than 1700" horses, not 1700.This NPWS document says that a survey in 2009 showed there were 7000 horses in KNP:http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/resources/protectsnowies/140549Snowies3.pdfAt the estimated rate of increase, it is highly likely that there are between 10 and 20 thousand. The survey will show the exact numbers of course, and will also give us an indication of the actual rate of increase, taking account of all factors. This will allow us to accurately estimate the horse population at any time in the future if nothing is done.Could you please provide a reference for your statement that aerial culling only works for open areas?You continue to push the line that aerial culling is cruel. Could I refer you (again) to these reports showing that aerial culling is considered humane:http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-08-13/animal-welfare-horse-culling/4873726http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-10-30/aerial-cull-of-horses-to-take-place-in-the-kimberley/5057208Safety of park users when shooting will take place will probably be done by the usual methods: wide publicity, and signs on entrance points. These have been used for warning potential users of the area before any sort of major work is done. (I would point out that this is much more than would have been done if hunting in national parks had been allowed to proceed. Under that plan, there would have been no notice to park users at all.)
      Hide Replies (4)
      • Donna about 4 years ago
        And you Bush Lover, continue to push the line that aerial culling it is not cruel, without sound evidence to support it. You also continue to use the same estimates as the basis for your assertions on horse numbers, then advise others not to rely upon them as they're irrelevant. You are also incorrect to assume there will be no hunting in national parks; as the service would say, "It's still on the table" to utilise recreational shooters for pest control, not specifically for horses but most certainly for other pest species. To also assume there will be any wide publicity prior to the cull is quite foolish, the particular cull in the Kimberley you refer to is a perfect example; carried out on Indigenous land without the traditional owners permission and regardless of their disapproval, conducted and concluded with a huge amount of secrecy. It begs the question why the cull wasn't publicised if the method is so unquestionably humane and results so convincing..
        Hide reply (1)
        • Monee about 4 years ago
          Yes aerial culling is considered humane because people are turning a blind eye to the results. Why? Because of the massive pressure to cull brumbies in a more cost effective manner. Cost seems to be considered more important than humane methods!
      • Themba about 4 years ago
        I see BL is continuing with their bullying tactics!"more than 1700" horses is in the 2009 NPWS study, not the 2005 study, I suggest you take a look at the actual 2005 study."At the estimated rate of increase, it is highly likely that there are between 10 and 20 thousand", I'm sorry but this does not correspond with previous studies or take into account the death rates or the removal of the horses by Brumby runners. What do you base this number on??Regarding aerial culling, I wrote " only viable for killing large amounts of horses in open areas". If you Google aerial culling you will easily find the basis for this comment.As to the safety of park users, the current estimates (I suggest you check with Admin if you wish confirmation) is approx. 3 million people visiting the park each year and approx. 30,000 hiking to the top of Mount Kosciuszko. Just how effective do you believe wide publicity and signs on entrance points would be to assure the safety of that amount of people? Not everyone watches TV or enters the park via an official entrance. What sort of outcry would there be if visitors to the park were trampled by a herd of terrified horses fleeing a helicopter or shot by a stray bullet? If you do Google aerial culling you will also notice that it is not conducted in winter but in the season when most visitors would be in the park.
      • Buckrunner about 4 years ago
        Bush lover your 10 000 to 20 000 estimates have been proven to be wrong, the latest survey is out and the estimated number is lower than the 2009 survey you talk about. The recent estimates are actually at between 4000 and 8000 more likely to be in the lower part of 4000. So now no bulls&@t on numbers.
    • jrw about 4 years ago
      Whether it is humane or not, aerial culling his highly effective and (in a relative sense) very cost effective. I would love to see NPWS be able to reintroduce aerial culling of a range of feral animals, horses included. I see no reason to remove carcasses, it's not cost effective and serves no purpose. No one is removing the carcasses of recently perished horses in the snowy area. I would love to see a policy and political environment where a deal was done to allow recreational shooters to target horses but somehow I think that might not make it into the room, let alone on the table.
  • Themba about 4 years ago
    I notice a comment in this forum "Aerial culling costs around $30/animal". I would love to know what this is based on?? Is this around $30 per animal killed per overall number of animals killed and over what time period?? Does the cost rise if they only kill 3 animals in an hour? Does this amount include the hire of a Helicopter, a pilot experienced in the terrain, the sharpshooter and their ammunition and the provision of VERY expensive aviation fuel??Does it also include the cost of ground follow ups to ensure the animals have in fact died and also their removal?? If people complain about seeing live horses now they are sure going to complain about the sight and smell of rotting carcases, not to mention that the carcases will also be providing a ready food source for pigs and wild dogs so their numbers would increase.Considering council charges $88.00 per hectare (about 2.45 acres) to conduct aerial weed spraying I would really love to know where the "about $30/animal" originates from.
  • peter_mcc about 4 years ago
    From walking/mountain biking around the Dead Horse Gap area I'm amazed that the horses have been allowed to do so much damage without being controlled. The article seemed a bit sentimental about the horses - it didn't show any of the damage they do, just nice photos of them running through the snow (and some dead ones).The comment at the end of the article summed it up for me: “Part of the conundrum is that the horse is a stunning animal in the wrong place,” I think they are definitely in the wrong place - I'm sure it will get opposed but I think as many as possible should be removed/killed and treated like other feral animals - dear, pigs, etc.
    Hide Replies (2)
    • Bio-Brumby about 4 years ago
      Hi Peter_mcc, Interestingly the Guardian article map has Dead Horse gap as outside any wild horse threat location, though areas nearby have a few spots marked. Can you describe further the damage you talk of? Also, are walking and mountain biking required to keep to tracks or can they free roam? From Bio-Brumby
      Hide reply (1)
      • peter_mcc about 4 years ago
        hi. Looking at the map I would have said it was included - certainly they have marked it as a location (one of the few marked) and it is at the bottom edge of a big red area.Walking is allowed off-track but mountain bikes stay on formed roads/trails (in any case, roaming free on a bike would just be hard work!).
  • Natives_rule about 4 years ago
    I visit Kosciosko regularly and have been appalled by the damage I've seen and the number of horses. Serious management is required. On a recent hike friends saw horses eating the intestines of a dead horse which suggests there isn't enough food and too many horses if they are resorting to cannabalism. Finding a humane way to control feral species is difficult but I think shooting is a much better option than animals dying slowly of starvation. I don't understand why people don't value this unique and fragile environment and our native animals as much as a feral species causing so much damage. I think it is time to focus on what is best for the environment of the Snowies rather than emotions of a small part of society.
    Hide Replies (2)
    • pepper about 4 years ago
      OMG I am gob smacked by your comments. Brumbies turning cannibal really....You will get the ones that know nothing agreeing with you.So did this person take pictures if so I would love to see them pfft.I suggest you find another story to tell cause this one is way over the top. .
    • horseplay about 4 years ago
      Removed by moderator.
  • pepper about 4 years ago
    These comments are just down right ridiculous. Brumbies turning Cannibal Stampeding herds of brumbies what next mutant brumbies eating humans for pete sake do you all think people are that gullible...... I would suggest maybe do some more research
    Hide Replies (2)
    • Natives_rule about 4 years ago
      Sorry to disappoint you Pepper but there are photos of this. The horses were eating the intestines of the dead horse which indicates that they were starving. The first photo of a dead horse in the Guardian article was in the same location (Ramshead range) that this was seen. Your comments are over the top and ridiculous as I was hardly suggesting they would start eating people. There is also plenty of credible evidence of the damage feral horses are doing to the fragile alpine environments. If anyone needs to do some research I think it is you.
      Hide reply (1)
      • horseplay about 4 years ago
        Removed by moderator.
  • WenMc about 4 years ago
    I truly get upset as there is so much focus on the Brumbies/wild horses. In the past I have spent weeks in the Snowy Mountains on horseback and from my experience I have witnessed first hand the damage the wild pigs do to the environment, which in my opinion far outweigh what Brumbies do. I think a strong focus needs to be done in regard to wild pigs, wild goats etc.......however, you never hear about the damage these animals do we always hear about the wild horses. I strongly want to protect our envirnoment there is far too much habitat destroyed with development and it pushes all our wildlife closer and closer to extinction which sadens me deeply................
    Hide Replies (4)
    • Bush lover about 4 years ago
      WenMc, all I can say is that you have not been looking. Perhaps as a horse rider, you are used to a substantial level of damage on your own property from horses, and do not recognise it in a place that should be pristine.Also, you would not have been in the areas where horse riding is not permitted I presume, so how would you know what damage is being done there? (Although a horse riding friend of mine tells of being horrified when on trip with a horse-riding group that they rode straight past signs saying no horses into a forbidden area. This sort of behaviour undermines any credibility horse riders may have.)As for pigs, goats, etc, these animals have been subject to controls for many years. If their numbers had been allowed to grow at the same rate as the horses, the whole park would have been overrun by them, as it is now by horses.
      Hide reply (1)
      • Donna about 4 years ago
        The number of other pest animals has grown considerably, with present control efforts non better than that of the horses. In fact in one meeting Mr Gibbs was heard to admit there was really no way of differentiating between the damage caused by pigs and that of horses, aside of course from hoof prints, which in itself is hardly definitive proof either way.
    • jrw about 4 years ago
      Hi WenMc - I don't see why this has to be an either/or in feral species management. I think it would be great if NPWS were able to provide the same concentrated focus on feral horse management as they have looked to do with pigs, foxes and the like. I suspect that as horses don't give birth to litters at a time, the results would be very positive for the environment.
    • Themba about 4 years ago
      Ever looked at the damage done by Native Wombats! They dig huge holes in the side of river banks and deposits huge amounts of manure. I'm surprised no one has complained about the holes and stepping in Wombat manure. I really do have to ask why so many people visit the park when we are constantly being told that the wild horses have trashed it! I have to agree with WenMc on the damage done by wild pigs, it far outstrips any pictures I have seen attributed to the wild horses. If you consider that a wild pig can turn over a whole paddock in one night it gives you a good idea of the damage they do.
  • Monee about 4 years ago
    Aerial culling is never a humane approach to the removal of our brumbies. I agree that brumby numbers are not sustainable at current numbers and are causing damage to the environment. I encourage and applaud the National Parks efforts to research options to remove the brumbies but I believe aerial culling is a cheap, easy option requiring minimal effort. Yes, brumbies do die from starvation but that does not mean we should cruelly shoot them from helicopters, often leaving them to die incredibly painful deaths. Furthermore, we need to consider the impact on the environment of thousands of rotting carcasses being left behind, potentially polluting waterways even further.Remove them, send them to abbatoirs to be disposed of appropriately, rehome where possible and consider options for humane removal.
    Hide Replies (3)
    • Bush lover about 4 years ago
      Monee, a lot of people are claiming that aerial shooting is not humane. A study of this very issue shows that it is:http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-08-13/animal-welfare-horse-culling/4873726You claim that many are left to die incredibly painful deaths. Do you have evidence of this?The study above shows that horses died in an average of 8 seconds, and the vast majority died instantly.In a cull in the Kimberleys, the RSPCA seemed happy that aerial shooting was humane:http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-10-30/aerial-cull-of-horses-to-take-place-in-the-kimberley/5057208By contrast, trapping can be incredibly cruel, with horses severely injured probably for weeks before being sent to the knackery:http://www.horsedeals.com.au/index.php?p=event&e=11696-Concerns-for-wild-horsesAs for rotting carcasses, let's look at two things. Firstly, the rotting carcasses will disappear in a year or so. Secondly, there is pollution from the hundreds of tonnes of dung and displaced soil filling creeks and rivers. Once the horses are gone, this will stop too..
      Hide reply (1)
      • Donna about 4 years ago
        There is actually ample photographic evidence of the horses left to slowly die after aerial culling, particularly from the cull in the Kimberley last year which the RSPCA 'approved' of and from which you're drawing your data, however erroneous. The same report from memory states that only 58% of horses died instantly; not what I would call the "vast majority" by any means.Take into account the fact that not every horse was assessed following the cull, but rather a certain number from which an average percentage was derived and you could hardly use that report as the basis for claiming aerial culling to be a humane method. I reiterate my comment on another discussion that has since been closed with regard to your comments of horses being injured in traps for weeks at a time; the responsibility for any horses left for that amount of time in a small yard to injure themselves falls solely on NPWS, not the trap or trapping program itself and cannot be used as a measure of its efficacy.
    • jrw about 4 years ago
      Cheap, easy options requiring minimal effort to provide the desired outcome are what we usually expect of government. Why is a sensible effective solution being 'poo-poohed' because it is cheap, easy and of minimal effort? It sounds perfect. The current slow, expensive and ineffective method doesn't seem to have a lot going for it.
  • Mal about 4 years ago
    I really think all we need to do is thin out the numbers each year with ground based shooting focusing on the most inbred looking ones and monitoring currently damaged areas to see if this has a positive impact certainly don't want to see all of them removed just the numbers reduced to what they were even 20 years ago when it was a challenge and a thrill to see them now you see them in places they never went including along the snowy mountains highway I feel the population boom is to do with milder winters and what's causing that I believe global warming take care everyone and keep cool heads
    Hide Replies (2)
    • Bush lover about 4 years ago
      I do not know for sure, and maybe Admin can advise us, but before the Guy Fawkes NP incident in 2000, horses were probably culled just as pigs, goats, etc were. Since then, there has been no effective control on numbers other than a limited trapping program and the horse numbers have exploded.Note also that the horse population 20 years ago was probably only a few hundred, and to get back to that number, a large number of horses would have to be removed now.I would also add that one of the discussion points is the cost of the current program verses its effectiveness. A document on this site says it cost $1704 per horse to trap them. Aerial culling costs around $30/animal. Ground-based shooting would be somewhere in between, but would be substantially more than aerial culling because of the difficulty of getting into the thick scrub where many of the horses are. Add to this the tendency of the horses to keep well away from humans, and it could be a very long term job compared to what could be accomplished in a day from the air.
      Hide reply (1)
      • Bio-Brumby about 4 years ago
        Hi Bush lover, for information, traditionally locals (in Snowy Mountain and presumable Guy Fawkes) would regularly catch Brumbies to renew their riding stock - this was stopped when each area became a National Park. The Guy Fawkes NP aerial shooting 2000 was a very bad example of how aerial shooting in steep, rough terrain with substantial tree cover (as also the Snowy Mountains) cannot work as it is too difficult to retain sufficient line of sight to gain a kill shot. 13 counts of cruelty were brought by RSPCA NSW against the NSW government, but the government negotiated with RSPCA to settle on one cruelty count provided the other 12 counts were dropped, rather than start prolonged court proceedings. Since then Guy Fawkes NP has entered into an arrangement, that still operates successfully, to passive trap and have Brumbies rehomed by two local rehoming organisations. Guy Fawkes Brumby numbers have gone down significantly, not exploded as you claim. The issue for Guy Fawkes now is how to remove the few remaining in one hard to access part of the park. Interestingly your comments on ground shooting being a medium cost because of the difficulty getting into thick scrub is precisely the reason why aerial shooting would be totally inappropriate in the thick scrub of the Snowy Mountains. Furthermore, if this was done 'in one day from the air' as you suggest, the result would be a much greater disaster than the 2000 Guy Fawkes 'incident'. Regards, Bio-Brumby
  • Mbidgee about 4 years ago
    The effect of feral horses grazing would cause minimal reduction in fire fuels, and at the same time causes unacceptable impacts on soft areas such as bogs. The most important reason that that influences the amount of fuel available for a fire is the weather: that is why there were extensive fires in 2003, because the drought had caused fuels to dry out and become available to burn. Normally, these fuels would have been too damp, and not been available fuel
  • nicole about 4 years ago
    Just a quick note to remind everyone about a couple of the forum guidelines: 1. Always respect the views of other participants even if they don't agree with you.2. Be constructive. It's okay to disagree with other forum participants, in fact we encourage debate, just keep the dialogue positive.3. Always keep things civil. We recognize that this can be difficult sometimes, especially when you are passionate about an issue, but it is important to keep the discussion focused on the issues rather than letting it deteriorate into personal insults.The full list of Forum Etiquette points can be found at https://engage.environment.nsw.gov.au/moderation#etiquetteThanks everyone.
  • Happy Jack about 4 years ago
    This seems to me to be a well balanced article. I note that the Gap "Dead Horse" was named some time ago for the very same reason we now see dead horses there. The more horses we have in the high alpine area the more they will suffer in winter.Those horses fortunate enough to live lower down may have an easier time but they cause greater impact on the park as a result of the greater numbers.
  • Jindygal about 4 years ago
    The Guardian article does a good job of describing the detrimental impact of the feral horses. However it was disconcerting to look at the video in the online version, of Peter Cochran sitting in his armchair bemoaning that the locals had been denied access to the mountains and now successive generations are trying to recover the right to get back there. Wow. Try walking. You don't need a permit. Then you'll find that your peace, enjoyment and safety are seriously compromised by wild, feral horses. You'll be able to see the damage. You'll fell the fear when you're on foot, confronted by a mob, or tucked up in your tent and total defenceless as they gallop around. The reason some people won't go to the mountains is that their enjoyment has been diminished, and the have real safety concerns, thanks to the feral horses.If you love the mountains, are proud and defensive of our Australian plants and animals, large and small, you'll be disgusted at the damage they've done. My access to my spiritual home has been endangered by these foreign animals. Even when riding a horse in the mountains, it is preferable to stay in a hut for safety reasons. Access can't be guaranteed.Sure, horses are magnificent animals but there is no reason Mr Cochran and his allies can't run horses on private properties for locals and tourists to see. Leave the national parks free for everyone.The experiment with rounding up and removing horses has proven ineffective. Dying of old age, injury or illness is not necessarily a pleasant and pain free experience. Do these horse lovers suggest we should go out and provide palliative care for ailing horses? Shooting horses is more humane and it's time to properly protect the indigenous species in all of our national parks.