It costs NPWS on average $1074 to passively remove a wild horse from the National Park. Do you think that is appropriate? Should we spend more or less?

by Catherine Russell, over 3 years ago
Thank you for your contribution to this discussion. This discussion is now closed but you can still view the material and the discussion.

A topic of some discussion, several participants have asked for this forum to be reopened. 

Since 2002 only 2600 wild horses have been removed from the National Park at a total cost of more than $2.8 million. 

These costs include planning, ongoing engagement with the community, and the purchase of equipment like vehicles and yards as well as ongoing operation costs.

THIS DISCUSSION HAS BEEN REOPENED AND WILL STAY OPEN TILL 12 DECEMBER.  

While every effort is made to work with rehoming organisations - not all wild horses removed from the National Park find a new home. 

The passive removal of wild horses from the National Park is the only management method undertaken by NSW NPWS.



  • Heritage Horses almost 4 years ago
    I would like National Parks to explain the figures of horse removals since 2002 when at least 1500 plus horses have been removed in the past three years,, What have you been doing the rest of the time Are you stating that in a twelve year period you removed less than 1000 horses,
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    • Catherine Russell almost 4 years ago
      Hi Heritage Horses thank you for the question. In the past three years there have been more yards and yards placed in different areas of the park which have yielded a higher average number of horses each year in this period. At the same time the wild horse population has grown, which has meant the likelihood of passive trapping a wild horse has increased. As the population grows, more wild horses can be passively trapped but the number removed may not keep pace with the rate of reproduction. As the passive trapping and removal program continues, yards need to be moved to new locations where there are mobs of wild horses. Increasingly as wild horses enter new areas of the park it becomes impractical to move trapping yards to some locations, particularly in the upper alpine areas thus enabling unfettered reproduction in these pockets and further spread of wild horses overtime. Thank you for your question.
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      • Heritage Horses almost 4 years ago
        thankyou for replying However that does not answer my question 2002 till 2014 your own figures are 2600 horses removed. so either your program has only started in the past five years and no horses have been removed, previously. i do not understand the figures . Your own figures then would be inferring that the passive trapping program has not been run productively for a continuous period to have effect.or has not run for the period of time you have statedPlease give me yearly figures for 2010, 2011, 2012 ,2013, 2014, individually i believe the numbers you have stated removed have been acheived over less than a third of the time period you have referred to IE 2002>2014, which is a 12 year period,
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        • Catherine Russell almost 4 years ago
          Hi HeritageHorses, the inforgraphic details the rate of population growth for the Australian Alps, KNP and the rate of removal of wild horses in three year intervals since 2003. This may be useful in understanding the figures. http://protectsnowies.environment.nsw.gov.au/ It is also important to consider, as outlined and indicated in the figures in the infographic the impact of the 2003 fires on the population. Subsequently as the population growth rebounded so to did the efforts of NPWS to manage the wild horses through passive trapping and removal. Hence the period of 2010 - 2014 where 1500 plus horses were removed. As stated in the previous answer a growth in population, more yards, placed in strategic and accessible locations in the park near mobs has yielded more wild horses. If you would like to understand the population growth rates please review the most recent survey indicators https://engage.environment.nsw.gov.au/protectsnowies/news_feed/summary-kosciuszko-national-park-preliminary-results-from-draft-aerial-survey-report
        • Bio-Brumby almost 4 years ago
          Hi Heritage Horses,These question/s are important.You may be interested to see the KNP Brumby population numbers as I understand them from Michelle Dawson who writes that in 2001 - 5200 Brumbies in KNP, in 2003 – 2369 KNP Brumbies. in 2009 - 7679 This year's count is 6,000. Cheers, Bio-Brumby
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          • WildHorseEcology almost 4 years ago
            Michelle was a paid researcher from my understanding and I would question the numbers given the automatic bias.
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            • Bio-Brumby almost 4 years ago
              Hi WildHorseEcology,You are correct; NPWS hired Michelle to conduct the aerial counts in 2001, 2003 & 2009, and paid someone else for 2014’s count. What I find interesting in the NPWS figures is that;.. They show (my maths is poor) the population 2001 – 2014 increased by only 1.5%, so.. If horse numbers grew by 1.5% during 2001 – 2014, presumable this percentage was kept low by horse predators such as fire, dogs, snakes etc. and NPWS trap/removal of 2600 horses over a similar period, therefore.. As NPWS have improved their annual trap/removal rates over this period and can now trap 670 a one year, it seems to me.. NPWS can now contain the 6,000 population by trapping 600 annually, or.. Depending on the SUSTAINABLE horse population set (5,000?), NPWS can reduce the total population by trapping 700 annually plus fertility control on mares in smaller population areas. Regards, Bio-Brumby
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              • peter_mcc almost 4 years ago
                See above - you've mixed up counts from the whole Australian Alps (2001-2009) with KNP only (2014).If you look at KNP figures only the population has gone up from 4200 to 6000 despite 2000 horses being removed. Trapping is not controlling the population - not even close.
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                • Bio-Brumby almost 4 years ago
                  Hi Peter_mcc,Just had quick check of Dawson's report, you could be right, just quickly, as I have to go out, do you have the 2001 figures total Alps and then separarted into KNP & Victorian Alps? I am finding it hard to see where Dawson separates this out.ADMIN - Can you give us the total 2001 Alps count ?then the 2001 - KNP count, andthe 2001 - Vic Alps count pls?Regards, Bio-Brumby
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                  • peter_mcc almost 4 years ago
                    I've looked and can't see it either - Hopefully Admin can help...
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                    • Bio-Brumby almost 4 years ago
                      Hi Peter_mcc,Thanks for trying to find it, will wait on Admin, Cheers, Bio-Brumby
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                      • Catherine Russell almost 4 years ago
                        Hi Peter_mcc, We have summarised the aerial count in the Australian Alps, KNP and the number of horses removed in three year intervals from 2003 to 2014 in this infographic. http://protectsnowies.environment.nsw.gov.au/ We used the aerial and ground surveys from this time and took a lower average rate of growth of 8% across all years (noting the population growth rate can be between 6% and 20%) To put these figures forward here: 2003 ALPS - 2500KNP - 150049 - Removed2003 -2006ALPS - 5000KNP - 2500133 Removed 2006 - 2009ALPS 7679KNP 4237362 removed2009 - 2012ALPS 9672KNP 4836588 removed2012 - 2014ALPS Pending release of latest results KNP 60001558 removedBelow is a summary of the latest aerial survey results as they relate to KNP:https://engage.environment.nsw.gov.au/protectsnowies/news_feed/summary-kosciuszko-national-park-preliminary-results-from-draft-aerial-survey-reportHere is a summary of the last aerial survey results for the ALPS in 2009 that references 2001 results: http://theaustralianalps.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/2009feralhorsealpssurvey.pdfIf you are after further information related to areas outside KNP, then the Australian Alps research reports page may help: https://theaustralianalps.wordpress.com/the-alps-partnership/publications-and-research/research-and-reports/
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                        • Bio-Brumby almost 4 years ago
                          Hi Admin, CC Peter_mccThanks for your response. My question was for 2001 count details, the figures you have kindly provided I had already found on the interactive KNP map, thanks.I used Dawson's 2009 report "The first aerial survey of the feral horse population in the AANP was undertaken in 2001, resulting in an estimate of 5200 horses” to be for KNP, however Peter_mcc queried if 5,200 includes Victorian Alps. Maybe Admin2 or Admin3 can shed further light on the 2001 count 5,200 figure as to whether 5,200 is KNP alone or KNP plus Vic Alps. If you do not have the information that is fine, just let us know, but if you can access it, it would help Peter_mcc & I for our ‘conversation’ chats. Regards, Bio-Brumby
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                          • Catherine Russell almost 4 years ago
                            Hi Bio-Brumby, the 2001 figures are drawn from Dawson's thesis which is available via google. Her thesis work was the impetus for the investment in ongoing aerial and ground counts of wild horses in the Australian Alps. We are looking at the population trends over the past 10 years against the only control method within KNP. Regards Admin, Admin 2 and Admin3.
            • peter_mcc almost 4 years ago
              If you're going to assume that everyone who you don't agree with is biased then this whole discussion process has no point. Sure, Michelle was paid but you are making a big claim about her integrity if you are saying her results have been "bought".
          • peter_mcc almost 4 years ago
            I think you're misreading the population counts. The ones from the 2009 report are for the whole Australian Alps. The 2014 figure you reference is only for KNP. From the draft results:For comparison, the 2009 survey estimated about 4,200 horses in Kosciuszko National Park. In the five years between the current and 2009 surveys, the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) removed more than 2,000 horses, yet the population estimate has still increased during this time.
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            • peter_mcc almost 4 years ago
              I'm disappointed that someone "disagreed" with this comment when it is polite, factual and verifiable by going back to the 2009 report and the draft results.
  • HVBA Vice President almost 4 years ago
    I was just wondering if Admin could provide some information on how much of that cost includes the cost of building the new yards? Now that the infrastructure is complete does that mean that this cost per horse will decrease over the coming years? Also has any cost analysis been done on any of the other methods available?Now that the count has been completed, and we can see that statistically speaking the population has not increased over the last 5 years (see my comment in the rehoming thread for more details on this) I think this cost is well worth it. The horses are treated humanely, they are given the opportunity to have a new life, and the population has been stabilised. Seems to me like everyone has been doing a great job so far.
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    • nicole almost 4 years ago
      Hi HVBA VP, NPWS advises that the issue of providing cost per horse of different control methods is in many instances difficult to quantify and estimate. The cost efficiency of some of the control methods such as trapping and removal is sometimes dependent on a horses willingness to enter yards and whilst factors such as staff and contractor knowledge through trial, error and experience, reading and knowing horse habits and behaviour, improving trapping techniques, defraying establishment and set up costs across the life of the program are all improving efficiencies there is also an element of luck still involved. Costs will vary on all control methods depending on factors such as initial set up costs, access, the fate and or disposal of horses, staff, volunteer or contractor involvement, insurance, the size and density of the population being controlled therefore influencing effort required, are all factors that impact on program costs and efficiencies. The $1070 per horse cost breakdown is reached via taking the approximately $2.8M dollars that has been spent on the KNP trapping and removal program since 2002 with a result of 2600 horses being trapped and removed, giving an average cost of approximately $1070 per horse through the current approach of this one control method. Cheers.
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      • HVBA Vice President almost 4 years ago
        Thanks for the response, that $1070 makes much more sense now. I assume that this means the answer to my second question is yes. That in terms of calculating the cost going forward, that cost of the initial yard set up, which I assume came out of that $2.8M, will not be a factor for judging the cost of the new management program. Is it possible to get a break down of the cost for the past couple of years since that infrustructure has been built, I assume you know how much has been spent during that time on the program, and how many horses were removed. This might give us a better idea of the cost of the trapping program going forward.
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        • Catherine Russell almost 4 years ago
          Thank you HVBA Vice President. It is very logical what you put forward. There are a number of variables and factors which can impact the cost and efficiencies of this program. For example while the infrastructure may be purchased it does need to be moved from time to time to where new mobs of wild horses are present and if the removal rate can not keep pace with the reproduction rate then additional resources may be required.
        • peter_mcc almost 4 years ago
          I would have thought the cost of the yards wouldn't be more than $260k (I'm being generous... either that or I need to start a business building temporary horse yards!!!). That drops the cost per horse by about $100 - not much.
      • peter_mcc almost 4 years ago
        Does that cost include everything right up to them being delivered to the rehoming group/knackery?How many trapping sites are being operated at the moment?
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        • Bio-Brumby almost 4 years ago
          Hi Peter_mcc,I can answer part of your question from my experience in the northern end of KNP managed by NPWS Tumut office. In this area, after wild horses have entered the passive trap, NPWS truck them out of the park to a nearby holding point, usually within one hour of the park boundary. For Tumut this is now a new, well designed yard (near Tumut) where NPWS & horses can safely moved around with minimum pressure. Rehoming groups who have given an EOI to take Brumbies for rehoming will have been notified when the trap is set, so ready for a call to ask if they want to come to the holding yard to collect brumbies. Once Brumbies are trapped, NPWS ring those interested to another group, and give them 1-3 days to collect them or they are trucked a few KMs towards Tumut to a dealer's yard. The dealer then organises the majority to be trucked to abattoirs, and usually is able to rehome some himself. So in summary NPWS costs stop once the wild horses leave the first holding yard because at that moment, ownership of the wild horse is transferred to either the rehomer who collects them of the horse dealer.Hope this makes sense, admin may want to correct me or add more on the Southern KNP trapping program.Regards, Bio-Brumby
        • Catherine Russell almost 4 years ago
          Hi Peter_mcc, NPWS advise that there are no trapping sites within KNP currently operating at the moment. It is planned that trapping will commence again in the southern end of the park in January/February 2015. NPWS advises that within KNP trapping and removal is carried out between February – May inclusive in Southern KNP and June –September inclusive in Northern KNP. This is limited and influenced by such factors as: ability to gain vehicular access to trapping areas with snow cover; wet trails; avoiding foaling season; interest of horses in salt and molasses used as lure in different seasons; intentional interference and vandalism of trap yards; dispersal of horses when public vehicular access to areas is available; and high visitation periods. NPWS operates trap yards at over 30 different locations across the park. The major determinate and constraint for the location of trap yards is the suitability of vehicular, truck and trailer access to be able to transport horses that are caught from the trap site. Not all trap yards are operated at once due to resource constraints of availability of yarding infrastructure, personnel to check, service and maintain trap yards, as well as infrastructure to deal with horses caught and then transport for either rehoming or to knackery or abattoir. Generally up to a dozen trap yards may be operating at any one time during the trapping periods
  • Themba almost 4 years ago
    Admin,Has there been any studies conducted into the revenue losses to the park and surrounding areas if aerial culling was conducted in place of or in conjunction with passive trapping? Given that there would be a backlash from the Australian public and Internationally, what is the estimated monetary loss to park revenue and that of businesses that depend on tourism in the area?
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    • Catherine Russell almost 4 years ago
      Hi Themba, thank you for your question. The log books, routine surveys of park users and anecdotal stories shared with parks staff give some insights into the motivations and experiences of people visiting our national parks but there has been no specific studies into revenue loss for the reason you put forward nor for the loss of revenue or tourism as a result of sustained damage to the national park from introduced animals.
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      • Themba almost 4 years ago
        Thanks Admin, I notice that your answer is referring to what parks calls the "sustained damage to the national park from introduced animals" and 't actually skirts around my question in quite an obvious way. Would it be possible for parks to actually answer my question instead? I'm sure there would be many people on this forum, those for and against the horses being the park, who would be interested in a response to my actual question regarding the loss of revenue to the park and surrounding areas if aerial culling were to be implemented.
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        • Catherine Russell almost 4 years ago
          Thanks Themba. As indicated in the initial response there has been no specific studies into revenue loss for the reason you put forward. We take this opportunity to point you to the conversation guidelines which also apply to interactions with the moderators on this site https://engage.environment.nsw.gov.au/moderation
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          • Themba almost 4 years ago
            Thanks Admin, apologies, just a little confused as to why the need to add the part about "the loss of revenue or tourism as a result of sustained damage to the national park from introduced animals". It appeared to me that rather than simply answering the question that another point of view was being put forward when I believed that Admin was an "unbiased" presence on these forums.
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            • Catherine Russell almost 4 years ago
              Thank you for the apology Themba. We the moderators do our best to provide information, follow up questions, keep the conversation civil and on topic and provide balance in responses where necessary. The idea of a social or economic impact study as it relates to a policy, practice, program or project in this context is noted and to further this, we put to the forum; what should be explored in such a study - the potential social and economic impacts of a single control method or a frame that is more inclusive of a range of deterrents and attractions that bring people to KNP?
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              • Bio-Brumby almost 4 years ago
                Hi Admin,Interesting study suggestion and would help NPWS focus/prioritise NPWS ways to attract/streamline visitor activity to minimise visitor impacts while giving them space to enjoy KNP’s beauty. Maybe start with;.. Canvas visitors & tour operators to gain reasons why people come to KNP,.. Review how visitor interests can best be met, with minimal impact on KNP, or.. Ask visitors to list things that would deter them visiting KNP, such as seeing damaged spagman bogs, river banks, damage from vehicle/horse/deer/goats track/river crossings, wallows from pigs/horses/wombats or seeing animal carcases, trap yards, etc.However SUSTAINABLE horse numbers, once identified & managed, will enable KNP landscapes to both benefit from the horses presence and robustly cope with its annual impact & recovery cycles. Contained impacts will provide steady income revenue because;.. Visitors can enjoy the values they expect to see in KNP, whether native flora/fauna, views, mountains or horses, in balanced proportions, and.. Tour operators will benefit as they can plan with confidence on the variety of attractions available, and .. Any social/economic impacts of a single control method or deterrents to people visiting KNP will become a non-issue. Regards, Bio-Brumby
  • Catherine Russell almost 4 years ago
    Hi All - one of the threads has put forward the idea of a social or economic impact study as it relates to the practices of the Wild Horse Management Plan and their impact on tourism and/or loss of park revenue. To explore this further we put to the forum; what should be explored in such a study - the potential social and economic impacts of a single control method or a frame that is more inclusive of a range of deterrents and attractions that bring people to KNP?
  • Themba almost 4 years ago
    I'm really interested to know why this particular discussion board has been reopened? Perhaps ADMIN could provide an answer?
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    • nicole almost 4 years ago
      Hi Themba, we were approached about re-opening several forums, this being one of them. Financial considerations have generated discussion within several forums, so we agreed to re-open this one.
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      • Bio-Brumby almost 4 years ago
        Hi Admin,How can others approach you about re-opening new forums, I thought that was what the separate chat page "Do you have a topic to discuss" was for, is that no longer the correct place to ask for forum topics? Many new topics have been listed there, but instead they seem to be by-passed for rreopening older topics, I am finding your topic selection rather confusing. Regards, Bio-Brumby
      • Themba almost 4 years ago
        Thanks Admin3. So, can people just send emails to ask for forums to be re-opened? Can you please advise what the correct procedure is for requesting forums to be re-opened as there appears to be some confusion.
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        • Catherine Russell almost 4 years ago
          Hi Themba, thank you for your ongoing interest in the review of the Wild Horse Management Plan. Online we have collectively been exploring a range of subjects related to the wild horse management plan. The intent of these forums was clearly stated in the introductory text to the site for a number of months which was recently replaced to aid navigation. That introductory text can be found at https://engage.environment.nsw.gov.au/protectsnowies?tool=news_feed#tool_tab under 'About this consultation' and states: 'Forums to date have examined sections of the Wild Horse Management Plan including: the Objectives (Section 2, page 3), Significance (Section 3, page 5), Population and Distribution (Section 3.5, page 13), Management methods (Section 5, page 17) and the humane treatment of wild horses (Section 3.3, page 29). Key sections will be revisited in future forums.'The intention of this site to review the current Wild Horse Management Plan is also clearly stated within each of the information sheets, particularly http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/resources/protectsnowies/140550Snowies4.pdf(External link)A number of topics put forward in the forum 'Do you have a topic you would like to discuss?' have been explored within the threads of other forums, like fertility control as an example. This particular forum related directly to the current and only control method employed by NPWS and has been an ongoing point of discussion in the full range of consultation activities not just in the online engagement. It is from the 'topic forum' , questions, emails, direct representations, other consultation activities and the sections of the plan itself that we determine which subjects, issues or areas need further exploration and where there is a desire in the community, online or otherwise, to continue to explore those issues. We hope this has answered your queries with regard to the intention of the online consultation and we have value your significant and ongoing input.
  • Bushwalker almost 4 years ago
    Hmmmm, interesting 'debate', with many people making wild accusations based on emotional responses rather than fact (and indeed often not even justified by what they are responding to!). I have walked extensively in the KNP for quite a few years now. I've seen plenty of brumbies, and some brumby traps. I've seen blackberries, quite bad infestations in some places, but there is an awful lot of the park where there are none. I think spending quite a lot of money to humanely remove horses so the majority of them can be killed anyway is a pointless waste of money. I like horses. They are beautiful animals. I quite like seeing brumbies when I'm out walking. I also like rabbits, and quite like seeing them. However, I am also very conscious that they are beautiful animals which simply do not belong in the areas where I see them. I've seen the beautiful streams turned into wide bogs by horses hooves. I've suffered from bacterial illnesses due to those same streams being polluted by horse dung. The reality is there are far too many horses in the high country (and rabbits too). I'd much rather see a bilby or a quoll or any other native animal which should be in those areas than a rabbit. 0 is actually the right number for both horses and rabbits, but that is unrealistic and unfortunately now unachievable. Shooting (if done by skilled shooters) is probably the most humane method of controlling horse numbers, and likely the most cost-effective too. One significant problem with shooting contraceptives is this — how do you know which horses have already had a shot and which haven't? What is the effect if a horse gets multiple shots / doses? Until a few years ago, it was a real treat to see a brumby, because they were a rare sight. Now they're everywhere and becoming a much more obvious 'pest'. The numbers of wild horses (and any other feral animals) have to be controlled by whatever means is reasonably humane and reasonably cost-effective. It is entirely impractical to remove them entirely, but their numbers have to be reduced significantly and then kept down. This likely means multiple methods will have to be employed. For example, there might need to be an initial cull to significantly reduce numbers, then an ongoing chemical sterilisation program to keep the numbers well down. It is disappointing to see people being attacked for posting (what I think are) quite balanced and considered thoughts... and no doubt I can look forward to that too...
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    • HVBA Vice President almost 4 years ago
      I definitely think you are right and that mixed methods need to be used. I just don't know about an initial large cull being the answer. I've spoken about this in other threads, but we saw a large population explosion after the 2003 fires (I'm assuming this is because of the increase in available resources) and I think if a large cull was done then we would likely see this happen again. This is why I think fertility control is so important, horses are territorial creatures and will continue to occupy their home range, hence holding those resources, which should help stop a population explosion occuring. I notice that someone was asking how you can tell which horses have been sterilised, if there was a community monitoring program then the locals would get to know the brumbies and they would be able to tell you who had been sterilsed and who hadn't. If you wan't proof that people can get to know horse herds well enough for this, look up the Cloud Foundation, the people running that know every horses that is born in that region, who is with what stallion at what time, who is due to foal and who is not. People who love horses find it quite easy to recognise those they have seen before, and if identification sheets were filled in then you would start to get a register of how many horses there actually is. I've also seen others concerned about the cost of fertility treatment because you have to take into account the trapping cost first, but this is not actually true because when they trap at the moment, there is inevitably some mares that have to released because they are too pregnant (and it is illegal to transport a very heavily pregnant mare) or their foals are too young and it would be inhumane to transport these horses as well. Why can't these mares be darted with fertility drugs before they are released. From what Bio-brumby has said about the cost of PZP, this should add a maximum of $35 to the cost of trapping, and it would make a massive difference if those mares (who are obviously of breeding age) could not breed for the next 5 years. This is the sort of mixed method approach that I think could be really effective at reducing the numbers long term. Remember the current trapping program has already stablised the population (no statistical difference between the last two counts, see my comments in rehoming thread for more on this) so it shouldn't take much more to start to reduce it.
    • Bio-Brumby almost 4 years ago
      Hi Bushwalker,A couple of points to add,1. Extracts from Adda Quinn, March 1998, R.3 October 2001 (provided by HVBA Vice President earlier) show horse manure is not harmful to humans, therefore removing horses would not stop visitors becoming sick from polluted waters as you experienced. Extracts include "Horse manure is a solid waste excluded from federal regulation because it neither contains significant amounts of listed hazardous components, nor exhibits hazardous properties" & "The primary chemical constituents of horse manure are about the same as harmless household and agricultural fertilizer. In fact, animal manure is a valuable agricultural amendment and has been used for millennia to help grow our food supplies. Current mushroom culture relies heavily on horse manure". 2. Sterilisation programs dart delivered leave colour codes on the skin for easy future identification. Agree we need a mix of management options.Regards Bio-Brumby
  • Local about 4 years ago
    Wild horses, deer , Goats and Pigs are all introduced pests, they should be removed from the Parks as quickly and efficiently as possible.The damage they cause is evident to any that wants to take a walk in most parts of the Park, including wilderness.Those apposed to the removal of feral horses DO NOT have the interest of the Kosciuszko National Park in there heart.
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    • HVBA Vice President almost 4 years ago
      Actually Local, I do have the interests of KNP at heart. We have no idea what would happen if we removed all the Brumbies from the park, we have no idea what would happen to the wild dog, pig and fox populations if thousands of horses were shot and their carcass's left to rot where they fell. We have some idea from recent studies that the abundance of weeds would increase and the diversity of natives would decrease. They do not speculate why this would be because they are disappointed by the results, but I can speculate that it could be because horses are selective grazers only eating certain things, and those certain things are mostly introduced grasses, not native saplings etc. We have no idea if reduceing the horse population would increase resources for the more environmentally destructive wild pigs and rabbits leading to population explosions of these species which would do even more damage. I can about the welfare of the horses, but I also care about the welfare of the KNP and that is why I am still here, commenting on topics long after everyone else has given up.
  • horses4discourses about 4 years ago
    This seems reasonable IF the costs can be recouped via sale - which they are presumably not, with most of these brumbies being destroyed outside the park because they are unable to find homes. In that instance, spending a thousand dollars per horse, simply to remove it from the park environment prior to it being destroyed at a knackery, seems a pointless investment. Just out of interest, how much would it cost per horse for sterilisation?
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    • Bush lover about 4 years ago
      Well, first you have to catch them, so $1074 to start with. My vet charges several hundred dollars just to sterilise a cat or dog. I image a horse would be quite a bit more. So you would probably need to allow about $2000 per animal.Let's take the low estimate of the number of horses today, which is 10,000. 10,000 x $2000 comes out at $200 million. If there are more than this, it could be $300 million.Personally, I would rather that money be spent on schools and hospitals, given that there are cheaper and more humane methods of controlling horse numbers.
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      • horses4discourses about 4 years ago
        Hmm, I would prefer to hear from the NPWS themselves for an estimate. I don't think your figures accurately reflect the situation, though admittedly I know nothing about the process of sterilisation - firstly, is it the equivalent of de-sexing? Or is it more akin to chemical castration? Does it require the animal to be physically caught, or can it be done via ingestion, at a distance? Second, your estimate here is based on ALL horses being sterilised, but logic dictates it would not apply to both genders, but either to mares OR stallions. However, I do agree with you that more funding could be directed to schools and hospitals!
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        • Catherine Russell about 4 years ago
          Thanks Bush Lover and Horses$discourses. It’s difficult to determine the cost of fertility control and the 2008 Kosciuszko Horse Management Plan did consider it. It will be considered again during this review as there may be developments that make it more feasible now. In the current plan it states:5.2 Fertility controlSeveral techniques of fertility control exist or are under development, and vary in cost and effectiveness. Alternatives include• surgical desexing of males or females• contraceptive implants for females• immunocontraception - where males or females are immunised against their own sperm or eggs. The latest advice is that all three techniques currently require horses to be captured and handled so the method has practical and financial limitations. In addition these controls wear off over time meaning that horses need to be re-captured several years later. Fertility control is not a feasible option at present as there are currently no techniques for wide-scale, cost effective administration of contraceptives. NPWS is keeping up to date with changes in technology as this technique may become more practical in the future.
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          • Donna about 4 years ago
            I'm sorry, you can shoot to kill but you can't shoot to sterilise?!! I'm stunned. Why is no credit being given to the many advances made in fertility controls and delivery methods in other countries such as the US? Administering PZP via darting is a possibility and has been achieved with success elsewhere. It is not realistic to allow others to believe that in order for fertility control to be successful, all horses must be caught. This is simply not the case as I'm sure you're aware; the ratio of mares in a band is not always equal to the number of foals born per year, nor is the ratio of stallions equal to that of mares in foal.
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            • Admin Commented Jenny.Bhatai about 4 years ago
              Hi Donna, thank you for your contribution to the many topics currently under discussion across this forum. Your feedback and insights particularly around fertility control are valued and will be considered along with all others as a part of the consultation process.
      • Donna about 4 years ago
        To Bush Lover, first off I just want to say where the heck does your vet come from and WHY on earth would you continue to use him if he charges "several hundred dollars" to sterilise a dog or cat?! Secondly, I want to address your obvious attempt to inflate the cost of sterilisation by claiming $1074 from the outset when I'm certain someone as well informed as you claim to be knows that the total cost given my Parks includes the cost of man hours, traps, contractors, baiting (salt licks and molasses) and the myriad of other factors involved in passive trapping. Your attempts to further inflame the situation by being rude to others commenting whilst being praised by the 'Admin' of the site are nothing short of school yard behaviour and certainly not conducive to a productive dialogue. I most certainly have strong reservations about your input if you're unable to give an even remotely close estimate on the cost of sterilisation, yet appear for all intents and purposes to be someone with knowledge of the issue; I fail to understand why you continue to partake in the discussion if you're not apprised of all the relevant information.
  • HVBA Vice President about 4 years ago
    While I understand that limited funding is a large issue for those managing the current program, I believe that it is difficult to make an assessment of its effectiveness and hence how well those limited funds have been allocated without the details of the most recent count. If the program is having no impact then it is reasonable to discuss how those funds can be better utilised, if however it is having a large impact on bringing the numbers to a sustainable level, then I believe it is well worth it. We also need to know how much each other management option would cost per horse, it may be that this is the most cost effective - bar doing nothing. It is also worth noting that a large amount of money has been spent of getting a fantastic yard set-up down in the park, now this is spent, I would expect the cost per horse should diminish? The horses that the HVBA receives for rehoming are amazing to train, and make wonderful riding horses, the safest kids ponies money can buy and the most loyal pet you will ever have. The conversation needs to be about how we can increase the proportion of horses that find a new home, because they are well worth saving!
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    • The longer we wait... about 4 years ago
      Well said.
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      • Happy Jack about 4 years ago
        Thank you Bush Lover, a well presented view.
    • Bush lover about 4 years ago
      Clearly, the current trapping plan is not effective in controlling horse numbers. Removing 200 horses per year is nowhere near enough to compensate for the natural increase in numbers.According to this document, in 2009 there were 7000 horses in KNP.http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/resources/protectsnowies/140549Snowies3.pdfIt also says that the rate of increase is between 8% and 22% per year. 8% of 7000 is 560 horses. 22% of 7000 is 1540 horses.So in 2009, the plan was ineffective. Today, the number of horses is between 10300 and 15500 according to the estimates, and increased by between 824 and 3410 this year.Removing 200 horses per year barely makes any difference. And then when you think that, according to the document above, 64% of that small number of horses go to an abattoir. This is a very expensive way to produce horse meat.You suggest that the answer is to find more people to take the wild horses. If you cannot dispose of 200 horses per year, how could you ever expect to find homes for over 3000 per year?So let us look at other options.Aerial culling is the most commonly discussed. Cost-wise, this report suggests that aerial culling of feral animals done efficiently costs as little as $30/head, only 2.8% of the cost of trapping.http://www.smh.com.au/environment/conservation/aerial-culling-of-8000-feral-pigs-20090706-daij.htmlAerial culling is often claimed to be inhumane. A study was done in the Northern Territory in 2013 on aerial culling and animal welfare.http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-08-13/animal-welfare-horse-culling/4873726This showed that the average time before death was just 8 seconds, and most of the horses died instantaneously.The RSPCA was heavily involved in a cull in the Kimberley. This would seem to indicate that they feel it is a humane way to remove animals.http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-10-30/aerial-cull-of-horses-to-take-place-in-the-kimberley/5057208Contrast this with a report on trapping horses in Kosciusko NP.http://www.horsedeals.com.au/index.php?p=event&e=11696-Concerns-for-wild-horsesSeveral horses were found by the RSPCA and vets to be so injured that they could not be sold and were sent immediately to the knackery. These horses had presumably been rounded up some time in the previous weeks, and had been suffering from then until they were finally killed in the knackery.Clearly, trapping is not humane.Are there other options?Poison baits? Unlikely to be humane, as poisoned animals can take days to die in agony. Any native scavengers who eat the dead horse are likely to be poisoned as well.Biological controls like viruses? If it escaped, it could kill every horse in Australia.I cannot think of any other ways to reduce the horse population to a sustainable level. From a cruelty, efficiency and economic perspective, aerial culling may not be perfect, but it is the best we can do at present to preserve the natural qualities of Kosciusko NP.
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      • nicole about 4 years ago
        Bush Lover, thanks so much for your significant input to these conversations. We see that you have commented on other pages of this site, and have made observations that contribute a great deal to the discussion. We will continue to add content to the site, so please be sure to check in regularly.
      • Bio-Brumby about 4 years ago
        Bio-BrumbyThe trapping program is now able to remove much higher numbers annually. NPWS trap skills have improved since 2009 and they recently removed 670 Brumbies in one year, which is a significant contribution. Passive trapping is the most humane way to trap a Brumby as no force is applied. Hardly any Brumbies have been injured in trap programs, and those rehomed have the best start in their new life when they are trapped passively, I have seen these stages for myself. Brumbies sent to sales are much more likely to be injured, and RSPCA has had to deal with this. Brumbies are best rehomed when collected direct from Parks by pre-arranged times to minimise delay. We urgently need to know the results of the March 2014 Brumby count. I seriously question the estimated population increase of 10300 to 15500. I only saw 15 Brumbies during a 2 day drive in Kosciuszko and virtually no negative impacts in Kosciusko [NSW]. Removing 680 horses annually should be sufficient to prove how well trapping can maintain stable Brumby numbers.With regard to alternative options;The RSPCA has seen camels being aerial shot in the Northern territory. My opposition to aerial shooting in the Alpine region is based on the terrain being remote, steep slopes and gullies, rocks and branches and significant tree cover. The alpine terrain makes it impossible to maintain a continuous line of sight for a quick death, and impossible for vital ground back-up to keep pace, leaving wounded horses to suffer an unacceptable time before dying. The RSPCA seem to support aerial shooting of Alpine Brumbies, but other more experienced experts in horse movements over rough ground and aerial shooting in different states, say the RSPCA’s approach is seriously flawed.Fertility control is viable on groups under 200. Depending on vaccine type, costs are $3-$35, last for 1-4 years and delivered by injection or dart gun. Fertility control has been used in the USA for over 30 years with great success.From Bio-Brumby
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        • Bush lover about 4 years ago
          Thanks for the information about the cost of chemical sterilisation Bio-Feral-Horse. Admin describes elsewhere the options for sterilisation. All of them require the horse to be captured first, which adds $1074 to your figures.Could I suggest that seeing 15 feral horses from a car is not a good way to estimate the population? All it shows is that they do not come near main roads. Get out of your car and walk into the bush for a day in the Pilot area. You will see signs of hundreds or thousands. Drive along the gravel Long Plain Road. If you don't hit one, you will see probably hundreds on the open plain. Walk from Blue Waterholes towards Old Currango, and you will see hundreds more. And that is just a couple of small areas in a park that is 6900 square kilometres.
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          • Bio-Brumby about 4 years ago
            Hi Bush Lover,Thanks for you interest. There is at least one current fertility control drug administered by dart gun (used on USA Mustangs), that provides an alternative to capture. It is interesting to see the overseas developments on different application methods. The Brumbies I saw were while driving on dirt roads with NPWS staff to view known Brumby locations, including the Pilot area. I agree walking is a good way to see Brumbies, but I have mobility limitations, so for me the car is the only way. from Bio-Brumby
      • Mbidgee about 4 years ago
        I agree, aerial shooting of feral horses is the only efficient and humane way to get numbers down to acceptable levels. Then it would be possible to explore other options. I see no point in spending over $1000 per horse to remove it from the park only to have it killed anyway.......aerial shooting is going to be as quick a death as in a knackery.The cost aerial shooting is not fixed: as feral horses are removed, the cost per horse will increase as it takes longer to find each horse. That rise in cost, the rugged terrain, and the fact that horses wil always be in surrounding country outside the park, will mean there will unfortunately always be some feral horses in the park . I don't mind a very small number of feral horses (and I can see that they will be impossible to eradicate totally)...a few feral horses can be become a mob of brumbies that are rarely seen, and return to the mystical status in our heritage
      • Donna about 4 years ago
        Clearly, you’re putting credence in a report many have continually doubted since being published; a report based on highly erroneous data and far too great a margin for error, a fact admitted by NPWS employees. Should you decide you want information on both sides of the argument, I suggest you take a look at this site and learn what many of us have known for a very long time – which is that reports based on false or incorrect data are pointless and serve no purpose in determining a sustainable management plan for the park. http://www.sosnews.org/Assuming the percentages you’ve given are even close to correct, it would be reasonable to believe there are now many thousands of horses in the park, yet the removal rate is apparently so incredibly low?? I'm no mathematician, but that doesn't come close to adding up! If indeed there are so many within the park, would it not then stand to reason simply increasing the amount of trap yards would increase the amount taken? Why is this not an option being considered?If your argument is based on incorrect information, it can only be wrong. The number of horses being re homed through rescue or advocate groups is increasing yearly and would continue to do so if Parks were to use a proactive approach to handling the problem rather than a short term, inhumane solution like aerial culling. The copious amount of good money being thrown after bad in this situation is astounding, and without justification; leaving those of us fighting for the horses shaking our heads in disbelief at ‘the powers that be’ continuing to make the same bad decisions year after year while our heritage horses are used for dog food. The ‘study’ you speak of regarding NT & the subsequent cull in the Kimberley in 2013 were if anything, proof of the inhumanity of aerial culling as a method of population control; there were horses shot that didn't die for days, of which there is pictorial evidence, as well as carcasses left to rot in the internationally recognised RAMSAR wetland of Lake Gregory Paraku Indigenous Protected Area. Once more you’re basing your argument on information supplied by those who stand to gain the most from deception and I urge you to gather more information from both sides before touting the benefits of aerial culling. It is also of note that only weeks prior to lending their support to the aerial culling in WA, the RSPCA were quoted as saying they believed it to be inhumane and would not support it….it is left to the imagination to wonder why their minds were changed by figures gained from the cull in the NT when the results were clearly abysmal and anything but humane. It is incorrect for you to state that the RSPCA were “heavily involved” in the cull in the Kimberley – the report clearly shows their participation was no greater than a mere ‘inspection’ of the slaughtered horses, after the fact.PASSIVE trapping is the most effective, humane method of management to date, aside from fertility controls, which you've failed to mention. Have you stopped to ask yourself how the horses are becoming injured in the traps? It is merely a holding yard containing salt licks and molasses, with a trip activated or automatic gate system. IF there are horses being trapped and left to their own devices for days or weeks on end to consequently harm themselves to the degree they require euthanizing, it is a failure of Parks staff, not the trapping system or program.
  • 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.
  • Themba about 4 years ago
    Yes, I do think the cost is appropriate. Where animal welfare is concerned I believe it is worth it. If it is decided that spending the money to passively remove the wild horses is too expensive, etc I believe that society as a whole needs to take a long look at itself. I would rather have my tax payer money spent on passive trapping than have them spent on animal cruelty such as arial shooting.
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    • Bush lover about 4 years ago
      Themba, are you concerned about the cruelty aspects of control of other feral animals? Do you find it cruel that we as a society put out baits for rats, mice and rabbits that cause them to die slow lingering deaths from internal bleeding? Or worse, use physical traps that leave the animal injured and unable to move until they eventually die of hunger?Are you also concerned about the cruelty of hundreds of horses starving to death when there is no food for them? Are you worried about all the native animals and fish whose existence is challenged by large herds of horses trampling their environment and perhaps killing them?Would you prefer to have hundreds of millions spent on keeping a number of feral animals alive, or spent on schools and hospitals? This is the choice we are looking at.
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      • Themba about 4 years ago
        Bush LoverYou appear to be hell bent on being as rude as you possible can be and as your comments are becoming extremely silly and offensive I will now decline to reply any further. If you are going to degrade into this type of comment such as you have above then you are truly not worth my time. I have replied to your questions in a civil manner and would expect you to do that same. This is not a debating forum, it is a forum for people to put forward their thought and views on the subject, not to attack others.
  • The longer we wait... about 4 years ago
    You know what I think? Control your wild horses is to nations what spay your cat is to families. Makes me very sad. It's the animals that are victims when responsible adults don't or can't Do The Right Thing.
  • Lucinda about 4 years ago
    Frankly how stupid how much does the Aerial culling cost? It's removing heritage horses who occupy a mere 20% of plantation infested blackberry over ran park... Shuffling them under some one else's carpet. The number and breeding figures are mere guesses and wouldn't it be kinder yes to sterilise and invest in fertility control ? I believe a managed population is crucial to continual ecological symbiosis fuel reduction and maintaining lawns which many wildlife depend upon, the damage to the bogs and water ways can be substantially aligned with plantation water theft not feral horses
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    • Bush lover about 4 years ago
      Lucinda, have you ever been to Kocsiusko NP? What you have written is absolute rubbish. I have walked hundreds of kilometres through the park over the last 30 years. The only blackberry I have ever seen in all that time was at the former Yarrangobilly Village campsite. The seeds would have been brought in, possibly in the dung of horses, by the people living in that village. Fortunately, it has not spread any further than the clump of rocks at the south end of the campsite.
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      • Buckrunner about 4 years ago
        Bush lover, u better keep walking because the lower snowy is choked up by blackberries. The rivers running into the snowy can't even be walked along because of the blackberries. The cost of all this can be reduced people r willing to do the removal for nothing.
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        • Bush lover about 4 years ago
          Hehe. I will. While I have walked over a lot of the park area, there are still areas I have not been to. The blackberry is obviously very localised.
  • Wild Horse Tours about 4 years ago
    If you don't itemise your accounting or give us a comparison how are we to know? In terms of giving an innocent, living being a chance at life = NO not too expensive. Not enough is being done to rehome first, destroy last.
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    • horses4discourses about 4 years ago
      It's a shame that there are just SO MANY horses always looking for another home. It's not just brumbies - thousands and thousands of ex-racehorses are sent to the knackery each year. There are too many horses, and not enough homes. I think the difficulty to rehome brumbies is beyond the control of the NPWS.