Should we fence introduced animals out of sensitive areas?

by Catherine Russell, about 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. 

Fencing is one mitigation proposed in the current wild horse management plan (see page 18). How effective do you think this could be? And where should we look to place fencing in the National Park? 

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



gerg1400 over 3 years ago
Agree fencing is expensive but may be appropriate in a couple of sensitive areas. Note that there is some fencing along the ACT border within KNP. Did you guys know that? Also the Victorian horse management strategy is planning some fencing of headwaters of the Murray at Cowombat Flat. The issue that culling horses by shooting being the most appropriate ignores the issues that lots of horse caracasses around is not pleasant and creates other issues. Even the Victorian Study group could not agree on this issue nor could NPWS in the last horse management plan
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peter_mcc over 3 years ago
The issue of dead horse remains is an important one that needs to be addressed. We saw a dead fox (from a baiting program?) at Blue Waterholes and it was pretty smelly, about 5m off the track in a dry creek bed. Leaving large numbers of much larger dead horses would be a bigger problem - I'd say they would have to be taken out somehow.
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HVBA Vice President about 3 years ago
I agree this is another very important issue surrounding in the idea of aerial culling. As far as I know, the carcasses are never removed after aerial culling. I watched a report on aerial culling of camels, donkeys and horses in the Northern Territory on Landline the other day and they didn't remove the remains, and despite claims by the rangers that it was humane, one of the station owners had footage of a struggling horse that had been shot and left to die in a dam. This brings up two incredibly important points. What happens if the horse falls into a waterway and dies, what is that going to do to the health of that waterway. How many horses are allowed to be left to die painful, prolonged deaths while the program can still be considered humane, one, two, ten...the answer is NONE and no aerial culling program has ever been able to demonstrate that this is possible.here is a link to that footage http://www.abc.net.au/landline/content/2014/s4134165.htm, and an excerpt from the report in case people can't watch the video.________________________________________________TAHMINA ANSARI: The feral management program also included wild horses and donkeys and questions have been raised about the welfare of the animals killed. These distressing pictures show horses wounded and left to die. Ian Conway says the same thing happened to countless camels. IAN CONWAY: I've been out into areas where camels have been shot and you can obviously see that they haven't died on the first shot or haven't died at that point in time, but died perhaps hours later or perhaps days later. We were guaranteed that these animals would be killed and die instantaneously. But a lot of these are lung shots, they're wither shots, which is in the top of that thing, they're head shots where it hasn't penetrated the brain. And so these camels drop. And to be able to get down on the ground and inspect every one of these animals to make sure they were dead is an impossibility, especially with the numbers that they said they were shooting. TAHMINA ANSARI: The Government insists that the right procedures were followed during the cull. GLENN EDWARDS: All the aerial culling was performed or undertaken by highly-experienced aerial shooters. They were all government shooters. So there was a high-level of quality control. And also, the project conducted audits of two things: adherence to the standard operating procedures, but also the project looked at the humaneness of the aerial culling and a vet was used to do that and a number of autopsies were undertaken and observations were made of actual culling operations. So, there was a lot of checks and balances. _______________________________I'll let you decide for yourselves if you think lung shots and whither shots are humane and if their so called "checks and balances" were appropriate.As for removing the carcasses, populations makes an excellent suggestion, but there are issues with this too because people would need to be able to be winched down to attach each carcasses to the helicopter and this would increase the cost of the operation significantly, not to mention the increased amount of extremely expensive helicopter fuel that would be needed to run the helicopter that is doing this. I am happy to be corrected but I believe that the currently accepted practice is just to leave the carcasses to rot, which I think we could all agree would be much more of an eye sore and bad smell than the piles of manure.
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peter_mcc about 3 years ago
I'm going to be painted as heartless but I'm ok with a small percentage of horses not dying immediately from aerial culling. The key being small.A small percentage of horses die horrible deaths in the wild after injuring themselves. A small percentage stave in winter. A small percentage get hurt when trapped. A small percentage don't die immediately in a knackery. I don't get why people keep saying NPWS has to be perfect when the rest of the world the horses live in isn't perfect.
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Donna about 3 years ago
We're back to the argument the HVBA VP has quite eloquently explained - it's not about the result, but the method. Going on your analogy, it matters not how any animal destined to die is treated on the way to their death; whether it be horses or otherwise, only that the end result is death. Does this mean we should turn a blind eye to the atrocities carried out on various defenceless animals in our country or others? Are we to cast aside all morality because we know they're eventually, somehow, going to die? Or lower our ethical standards to that of the worst abusers, because why should we be any better if they don't have to? That to me is beyond unconscionable.
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peter_mcc about 3 years ago
Donna - to quote my first paragraph - "The key is being small [percentage of animals who don't die instantly]".You are twisting my words into something I am not saying. I'm not saying it doesn't matter what we do to all the animals that will die anyway - of course it matters. I'm saying that EVERYTHING in every animal's life has some chance of a slow painful death. As long as the risk of a non-instant death is very low then in my mind it is ok.I feel I keep hearing that there has to be a zero percent failure rate for any management method. That just isn't going to happen no matter what is or is not done. If we leave them to "roam free" some of the horses still die slowly & painfully - be that from starvation or injury or disease. How is that acceptable? Or is that ok because we're not doing it directly?
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HVBA Vice President about 3 years ago
I understand where you are coming from, nothing is ever going to be fool proof, but with every other method we have the chance to improve, to adjust the methods so that if a horse dies one way, we can try to make sure that doesn't happen again. The thing about aerial culling is that the idea that some animals are going to suffer is built into it, and there is nothing you can do to avoid it. I don't think you are heartless I get what you are saying, I just can't accept a method that will not even try to be 100% accurate, that says oh well, so that one horses suffered, next time I'm going to do exactly the same thing and probably get the same results but who cares, its only one horse right and now we have less horses so who cares anyway, like that life didn't mean anything to start with.I believe that if we are going to cause an animal's death, then it is up to us to make sure that animal does NOT suffer. I am ok with what happens in nature because that is life, I absolutely believe that if we witness suffering that we can help, such as an injured animal that we could put down, then we have a responsibility to do what we can to help it. We are intelligent beings and we have the ability to make decisions that impact on how another creature lives and dies. Why is it too much to ask that we take responsibility for our actions here, that we accept, as we have done so many times in the past, that this particular method has flaws that cannot be fixed and so, as good as the idea seemed to start with, that actually we can do better. We CAN do better.
Donna about 3 years ago
I don't feel I twisted your words; perhaps I misinterpreted your meaning, but no twisting going on here.I feel like you're saying that because the number that is killed inhumanely is 'negligible' then that's ok, but it's not. NPWS are not expected to be perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but they are expected to utilise the least harmful method of culling - and I think the evidence is clear that aerial culling does not fit that description. So no, it's not ok if a few die slow, painful deaths as a result of using this method just because a few die slowly in 'the wild' - nature is a cruel mistress but she isn't answerable to us as tax payers or park users, parks however are.
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peter_mcc about 3 years ago
I guess this is where we differ. I don't think they are required to use the "least harmful method of culling" - economics must be part of the consideration as well, just like it is for every decision that NPWS, the government and people make. The Government applies that same sort of logic to every decision. The road from Canberra to KNP is (mostly) one lane each way without much of a run-off area or any divider in the middle. This means that accidents have a higher "impact" on the people involved - they get hurt more badly and a higher proportion of accidents are fatal. One of the solutions would be to make it 2 lanes each way with a dividing barrier in the middle and breakdown lane - this would greatly reduce the likely injury from an accident and reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured. BUT it would cost $$$$$$. The government has done a cost/benefit analysis and worked out it's "better" to have a few people die on that road than spend the money upgrading it. I'd love to see that road (and many others) made safer by better design. But the cost would be astronomical and the money in the budget is limited.All I'm saying is apply the same logic to managing the horses. Yes, there may be options out there which are like divided 2 lane highways. But can NPWS afford to apply them? I'm not saying the horses welfare doesn't matter but rather than "near enough" is "good enough".This whole discussion forum suffers because there is no target for the horse population. If the aim is to have 100 horses in the park then the whole approach is different to if there is 1000. And that is different to 5000 or 10000. I'm in favour of seeing the horse numbers reduced greatly (accepting that they will always be there) - I cannot see how that can be accomplished by the current trapping methods. If you think the current numbers are about right then there is no need for aerial culling and a stepped up trapping program may be able to keep the numbers under control (though that seems unlikely if you trust the latest horse count numbers).
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Donna about 3 years ago
"The budget is limited" is nothing but media spin, I think the cost of hosting the G20 recently proves that more than sufficiently. It's not a matter of how much the Govt have to spend, it's about how much they WANT to spend. Of course you realise I'll continue pushing for a 'two lane highway' on this issue, rather than a hit and miss solution such as aerial culling.Near enough is nowhere close to good enough when we're speaking in terms of lives, whether they be human or horse. It's no more acceptable for the Govt to cry poor when asked to improve that road than it is when asking them to employ the most humane method of culling. We agree that we'd like to see both issues better by design, so that's something.
InterestedObserver about 3 years ago
If the end result is going to be death, then death should be delivered swiftly with the shortest duration of stress, pain and suffering possible. Aerial shooting results in a much quicker and humane death even if it takes a few minutes. Compare that with trapping a horse in a yard for several hours, loading it onto a truck and transporting it several hours to an abbatoir, where it then waits several more hours to be killed (where the instaneous death rate isn't 100% anyway).Injuries and issues will occur in all forms of control, but if you at least TRY to kill quickly and humanely it's better than deliberately stretching out the process over hours and days, and adding more handling and complexity to the process providing many more opportunities for problems to occur.
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Donna about 3 years ago
Then I'd suggest we need to shift our goal to aim for death not being the end result. Finding animals alive up to a full day later is not "a few minutes", and is an acceptable length of time for any animals to suffer.
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InterestedObserver about 3 years ago
Whilever there are more animals being removed then can be rehomed, and even more needing to come out to prevent further population growth, death is inevitable for most of them.We should be aiming to minimise the stress fear and pain they suffer.'Negligible' numbers of horses suffering more than they should IS OK, provided the intent is a rapid death and that all best endeavours are undertaken to try to ensure that. But planning for them to be tortured through containment in traps, yards and trucks, often in mixed mobs, with 'negligible' numbers injured during these processes and before being killed at the abbatoir, with 'negligible' numbers suffering inhumane deaths there too - that is not humane. I can put up with wild animals being trapped, contained and transported if they're going to be rehomed at the end of that ordeal (a good end justifiying the awful means), but most don't get that happy ending.Unless you have a way to massively increase the number of horses being re-homed. On a long term basis.
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Bio-Brumby about 3 years ago
Hi InterestedObserver,Passive trapping conducted as currently occurs in Northern KNP for example, is the least stressful method and from the rehoming results shows the horses are minimally 'stressed'. I have seen the trapped Brumbies; they are no tortured when handling is calm, slow respectful movements. I agree with you that it is not appropriate to truck Brumbies to abattoirs to be killed. My preference as has been voiced by several people on this chat room, is to have those Brumbies not able to be collected for rehoming, to be euthanized on site, under the correct Codes of Practices, i.e. races, leading away from the mob, screened off and killed by a skilled shooter, very sad, but I accept the need as a preferred option to trucking to abattoirs, as I thing you do. Regards, Bio-Brumby
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InterestedObserver about 3 years ago
Unfortunately just continuing to trap and then euthanase the 'excess' horses won't meet the requirement to remove more horses than is currently occurring.
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Bio-Brumby about 3 years ago
InterestedObserver, I responded to your concerns on humaneness & rehoming. Re: Your query on trapping not meeting requirement to remove more horses than is currently occurring, I suggest that NPWS trap skills have improved to achieve 670 in one year. With the current count at 6,000 that means even if they do not improve (and I am sure they can), over 10% annually can be removed. Add modern developments in fertility control where a vaccine can be delivered by dart gun to control up to 700 Brumby populations in a given area without trapping, reducing wild horses to sustainable populations is, in my view, achievable. But first we need to scientifically identify the sustainable carrying capacity of each KNP horse populated area, then work to that goal. It is vital we support KNP’s native flora and fauna, landscapes, spiritual and heritage values etc., and for me, that is able to be achieved with sustainable wild horse numbers. Regards, Bio-Brumby
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InterestedObserver about 3 years ago
I think you need to identify the carrying capacity of KNP for native species first. It's not a farm, it's a refuge for native species and natural ecosystems.Then work out how many horses can occur without reducing the carrying capacity for any native plants and animals. I'd suggest that would be a very low number.Darting 700 horses per year is unlikely to have much of an effect on a population of 6000. Possibly pretty expenisve too, for little result. Is this done by helicopter or on ground? I don't imagine you'd get many darted per day on ground, unless you had a large number of teams involved. And darting is a fairly specialised process, so it's not like you can have volunteers helping to keep the costs down.670 trapped in one year hasn't resulted in a reduction in the horse population, so clearly they need to trap more to reduce the population. How long can then rehoming groups adequately deal with 670+ horses being trapped per year (assuming it's going to be possible to keep trapping that number given trap shyness will increase)? That will be a lot of animals going to the abbatoir.
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Bio-Brumby about 3 years ago
Hi InterestedObserver,I agree carrying capacity is delicate balance to avoid unacceptable impacts on native species, only careful studies can identify the correct horse numbers each area can handle.Fertility control is used on a % of mares only to control foaling rate. The vaccine is applied by dart gun, without the need to trap horses first. This is usually done by skilled volunteers. Park staff do not have these skills and volunteers are ready to step up.Fertility control would need to be trialled in KNP to identify how many mares to dart.Mares are darted by people on the ground, not aerial, who know maybe one?Thanks for your interest, Bio-Brumby
Perplexed about 3 years ago
Does this 'right to life' attitude only apply to species that are large, look stunning, and have had an association with man? Where are the rights for the native species that are losing their habitat and there battle for existence as a species because of the impact combined with other factors. If we were talking rainforest, koalas or dolphins being impacted here rather than sphagnum bogs, broad toothed rat, spiny cray fish, she oak skinks I think it would put a very different balance to this debate for many. Humans are a funny species!
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Donna about 3 years ago
Of course it does, to ask the question is to be facetious in my opinion, as is the inference that the 'pro brumby' among us only care for their welfare and 'right to life' because they're "stunning and have had an association with man". I'd fight for the rights of dolphins or koalas as much as I would for these horses, and have done so in fact. I know for certain the horses have not been responsible for the extinction of any native species, hence I question the impact they're actually having or have had for over a century.
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Perplexed about 3 years ago
Feral horses may not be directly responsible through predation or physical injury to native species ( although I wonder how many corroboree or other frogs, or crayfish have been squashed or killed in their burrows due to horse) but they certainly are contributing to the loss of habitat of these native species. I just don't think you accept that horses are having this impact? Refer the alpine and sub alpine bog reports just for starters on one ecosystem..just like logging does not generally directly kill koalas but if the trees are gone so are the koalas. Same concept no bog no frog!
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Bio-Brumby about 3 years ago
Hi Perplexed,I share your concern for the sensitive alpine bogs and their increasing threats. However I’d like to put more perspective on potential wild horses as compared to others listed in the link http://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/9cc1f452-9121-44e1-aa88-80939c14d404/files/draft-recovery-plan-alpine-sphagnum-bogs.pdf which states;.. Climate change must be considered as one of the most ominous threats currently facing the Alpine Sphagnum Bogs and Associated Fens ecological community, even though the implications and specific details are as yet unclear (Keith, 2004; McDougall and Walsh, 2007; Williams & McDougall, 2007). .. Too frequent fire remains an ongoing threat to the Alpine Sphagnum Bogs and Associated Fens ecological community…. even a small increase in mean ambient temperature is likely to result in the loss of more bogs and fens. .. Feral Deer are an emerging and urgent issue threatening biodiversity in the Alpine and subalpine areas of mainland Australia and Tasmania. .. Feral pigs are a significant problem causing damage to bogs in both the ACT and NSW... Rabbits, foxes and cats may impact populations of native frogs (including the critically endangered Corroboree frog - Pseudophryne spp.), native fish (Galaxias spp.) and alpine spiny crays (Eustacus and Engaeus spp.) in some high altitude areas, including in the ecological community. .. Read also threats from humans and weeds and horses. Maybe we should give fencing high priority to exclude horses, deer, pigs, rabbits, foxes, cats and humans (harvesting the bogs) in the next KNP management plan? Regards, Bio-Brumby
Khankhan about 3 years ago
Then why do a number of your people repeatedly refer to the need to have sustainable horse numbers? Up until this segment, none of them has advocated for sustainable native flora and fauna levels or numbers. Again the repeated claims that feral horses have not been responsible for the extinction of any native species, is frightening. So its OK to have species reduced, threatened, endangered or close to extinction. How low do you want to go for native species, while setting different bench marks for feral horses?
Khankhan about 3 years ago
Fencing out feral horses around the headwaters of the Murray is an interesting one to contemplate, given the area defines the NSW and Vic border. The headwaters of the Murray occurs west of the Black and Allen line (the straight bit of border to the coast at Cape Howe). The prospect just demonstrates how unfeasible fencing is, the horses just go a bit further east and get to the river from the NSW side. High cost, high maintenance, difficult to access, helicopters required to drop fencing and other equipment to site, etc., and that is after quite long and difficult road trip by truck to bring said equipment within flying distance of the site.
Themba over 3 years ago
Fencing would be an excellent way to keep the horses away from contact with humans in populated areas such as Yarrangobilly caves and the roads into the park. It would also show the results of excluding horses from some areas and how much money and resources is then being utilised by the NPWS to manage those areas. This would also provide NPWS with a much more informed picture of what will happen to the environment if the horses are excluded and just how much money would need to be spent on those ares to maintain them.
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peter_mcc over 3 years ago
I was in that area on the weekend - spent two nights at Blue Waterholes - great spot. We saw quite a few horses including one mob of around 20.How big an area are you thinking of fencing around there? From memory the road signs said watch out for horses for 17kms or so in one section - that's quite a lot of fence...
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Themba about 3 years ago
The fencing would not need to be continuous, it would only need to fence out particular areas. The point of fencing would be to show what happens to the environment when horses are excluded and how much money it would then cost parks to maintain those areas. Those costs could then be compared to removing horses from those areas and indicate which is the more cost effective and sustainable. I'm sure it has not escaped your notice that the region now has very long, dry grass which is a bushfire waiting to happen. Fencing out particular areas could show just what sort of bushfire hazzard is caused by excluding the horses and how much money is spent by Parks to ensure the bushfire hazzard is reduced. I agree that fencing the roads into the parks is not a cost effective way to go for the whole length, more signs warning of the danger of collision with animals (native and not) may be more effective but unfortunately humans being what they are they are will still drive too fast for the conditions. Fencing off particularly troublesome spots could help to reduce the incidence of collisions with both native and introduced species. The other issue is of course that fencing off roads, etc causes areducing the ability of animals to travel between areas for breeding purposes.
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Khankhan about 3 years ago
Themba, both the Victorians and NPWS have many fenced exclusion plots in the Alpine NP, and KNP. They clearly show major differences with grasses, sedges, waterways, gentle surface water movement, shrubbery, frogs croaking, insect activity, etc. when inside the exclusion plot, compared with the area outside of the exclusion plot (pugging, rapid run-off, erosion, no grasses, mud, wallows, and no frogs). In Victoria many of these plots were installed in March 2002 (the year preceeding the 2003 fires). This project is part of a larger project, initiated and funded by the volunteer group Friends of the Cobberas, is supported (but not funded) by the Alpine Brumby Management Association and Mountain Cattlemen's Association of Victoria. So there is clear evidence 'to show what happens to the environment when horses are excluded'.
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Themba about 3 years ago
Thanks for the info Khankhan, I would be interested to see pictures if you have them? What bushfire management has been set up in the fenced exclusion plots? Have you found the native grasses take over and choke out the native wildflowers?I am aware that Parks have trialled fencing exclusion zones so it would be very interesting to hear from them as well as to what the finding are and bushfire management programs for such areas as well.
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Khankhan about 3 years ago
I'm pleased you are interested in the science of the exclusion plots in Victoria and NSW alps. I Googled the topic and came up with the following for you to see and read. The last two are pdf files and I couldn't get them as a URL, so you will need to Google the titles. I was pleased the documents and photos covered various years from about 2005 to 2013. I am not in a position to answer on fire management plans, again the areas will be covered by existing plans at least in KNP and you should be able to find that on the net.NPWS Video clips of horse impacts in Kosciuszko National Park – any number of videos taken at Cowombat Flat, and including exclusion plots https://www.flickr.com/photos/nswnationalparks/sets/72157641716347183/ Part I Shorter Source of the Murray River – includes photos of exclusion plots at Cowombat Flat https://www.flickr.com/photos/91914657@N08/sets/72157640126733276/detail/ Parks Victoria, Background paper 1 of 3, The Ecology of Wild Horses and their Impact in the Victorian Alps (pdf).Refer to:Table 1 Wild Horse exclusion plot, Native Cat Flat 2004Photos 1 Trampled area Cowombat FlatPhoto 4 Cowombat Flat exclusion plots from the airPhoto 5 The Playgrounds wild horse exclusion fence, and Appendix 3 Endangered and Critically Endangered fauna species potentially at threat from feral horse activity in the Eastern Alps. Parks Victoria, Information Sheet 2 of 5, The Environmental Impacts of Wild Horses in the Victorian Alps (pdf)Refer to:A photo collage of wild horse impacts in the Victorian Alps 2005 (Cowombat Flat exclusion plot is one of the photos)Trampled area at Cowombat Flat 2008Cowombat Flat Exclosure plots from the air 2012
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Bio-Brumby about 3 years ago
Hi Khankhan,Thanks for the Cowombat Flat photos & aerial shot links. While I share your concern at the damage in the photos, I also have concerns that this damage seems to me very localised, and repeated from different directions or angles.The little I could see of adjacent areas were OK to me, which suggests to me the impact area was a regularly crossing spot for many animals and as such minimal compared to impacts I saw at Cowombat Flat where vehicles cross the stream nearby the exclusion plots. I saw green grass & flowers outside zone areas, but none inside the zone; are flowers/green grass a bad scientific result?The Photo labelled ‘former bog’ was close up, with no measure to show impact size the area seemed very small and I noticed surrounding areas showed no impacts.I do agree the chopper film showed the proportion of damage from subsiding banks better. Do you know the name of the location? How often does that area flood? Finally, not sure why the trap yard soil was photographed, I would be surprised if it contained green grass and flowers, just as I would be at a farm gate where animals congregate, or after vehicles have frequently parked on the same plot of land.I am not saying horses never cause impacts, all animals/humans will, to me the proportion of impact vs the whole area is what matters. I believe we need to manage horse numbers to SUSTAINABLE levels; meaning to a level the horse’s environment can robustly re-generate from seasonal impact & recovery cycles. An overabundance of any species, especially humans, is not good. Regards, Bio-Brumby
Themba about 3 years ago
Admin, I know parks currently fence the horses out of particular areas in the park. Can you provide some information on what the effect is of this? What is the grounds coverage like (long/short grass, increased native vegetation??). Could you also provide information on the bush fire planning for those areas where the horses are excluded and an indication of how much money is spent on maintaining the areas?
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HVBA Vice President about 3 years ago
Hi Themba, here is a report done on this http://australianalps.environment.gov.au/publications/research-reports/pubs/feral-horses-impact-report-2007.pdf, read it and I'm sure you will come to the same conclusion as me, the writers made some very "interesting" conclusions based on the evidence they found.examples taken straight from this paper"Results to date show that exclosure from horse grazing has not had striking effects on vegetation composition at either site." "Nevertheless, there was some evidence that vegetation change is beginning to occur with exclosure from horse grazing.""a reduction in point-scale species richness reflecting a decline in abundance of some species, particularly native forbs.""Other effects included a decline in the herbs Hypoxis hygrometrica, Euchiton involucratum and Gonocarpus micranthus from 1999 to 2005 and an increase in the exotic grass Holcus lanatus over the same period"Read it anyway, its an interesting example of how researcher bias can effect the research.
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Themba about 3 years ago
Thanks for the link to the report HVBA Vice President, I will take a look. It appears that Admin are not keen on providing any information these days, this is the third time I have asked for information they could provide and received nothing in return. Hate to say it but it make it looks like they have something to hide by ignoring questions.
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Catherine Russell about 3 years ago
Thanks HVBA Vice President for passing this information on to Themba, Apologies Themba for not getting back to you sooner. There is a wealth of information and links available on this site and you may find additional resources https://engage.environment.nsw.gov.au/protectsnowies?tool=news_feed#tool_tab
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Themba about 3 years ago
Thanks for the reply Admin. Unfortunately the information and links on the site don't include the information I was seeking. I would have thought that given parks have already trialled fenced exclusion zones that you would be able to provide the results of those trials to give people on this forum more informed information.
Themba about 3 years ago
Thanks again for the link HVBA Vice President, it was very interesting. The reason I continue to push for studies into the consequences of removing the horses is because I can see the difference in my own exclusion zone on my property. The exclusion zone contains high grass and a large amount of POA (POA is a native grass that also happens to be highly flammable for those not familiar with it) with very little native wildflowers, herb or birds. On the other hand the grazed areas contain less POA, an abundance of native wildflowers and plenty of birds. I need to slash the exclusion zone each year to reduce the fuel load which I find concerning. My conclusion (not being a scientist or anything!) is that the grass is out competing the native wildflowers and herbs and reducing the biodiversity and fertility of the area which in turn means less bird life.Interesting read.
Khankhan about 3 years ago
On exclosures. 2007 was nearly eight years ago and in the middle of the drought. Many of the plots were established in 2002 or later (again in drought conditions) and then affected by 2003 fires. Worboys and Pulsford say differently to your quotation, in more recent observations.
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Bio-Brumby about 3 years ago
Hi Khankhan,I saw the Cowombat exclusion zones earlier this year. I asked NPWS if the tall, try grass, on bare sandy soil inside the fenced area, was actually what they wanted. The answer was no, but it shows the difference in growth for grazed and ungrazed areas. Another NPWS person told me that inside the exclusion area existed Bio-MASS, while outside the exclusion area existed Bio-DIVERSITY. I thought Bio-Diversity was the way to go?Regards, Bio-Brumby
pslambe over 3 years ago
I have been to Cowambat Flat where parts of the flat are fenced off from horse grazing. The difference between grazed and unglazed area is most encouraging. Admittedly it is not possible to fence most areas, but at least it will provide a baseline for comparison purpose.
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Themba about 3 years ago
Are you able to describe the difference between the grazed and ungrazed areas? It would be really interesting to hear of any studies conducted on the biodiversity of the grazed and ungrazed areas and the related bushfire hazzard.
coastwatcher about 3 years ago
They are called exclusion zones both quite small and show a distinct difference against the surrounding area.
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Donna about 3 years ago
A distinct difference in what way Coastwatcher?
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coastwatcher about 3 years ago
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Jen over 3 years ago
I believe fencing could possibly be an option for the most environmentally sensitive areas. Just like in the winter there are parts of the ski resort fenced off from people skiing so as to provide at least some small amount of refuge for the Pigmy Possum, maybe it could be possible to determine areas of high risk, in particular to the breeding areas of the Corroboree Frog or habitats of the She-oak Skink and then provide fencing for these sections. I know it would be a lot more complex and quite a bit of work involved, but it's just a suggestion. And like I've mentioned below I could imagine it would be more cost-effective and provide more jobs for people implementing things such as this than aerial culling.
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Khankhan about 3 years ago
In Northern Kosciuszko, there are significant populations of feral horses both on the open plains, the karst and in the dense forests. Certainly the forested areas are the known habitat of the endangered Northern Corroboree frog. Assuming feral horses could be removed from these areas (a huge task in itself), NPWS would need to erect horse proof fences around the entire external borders of the park, plus interal fencing around the Goobragandra, Bramina and Bimberi wilderness areas, and the Yarrangobilly and Cooleman Plain Management units (Karst country). At what cost? What other programs, including those for the control of other feral animals would be compromised? Do you fence off all the minor, major and management roads too?
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Jen about 3 years ago
Thank you for the response. I do realise it's such a massive and complex issue, and fencing just seems like an more ideal answer besides shooting, but obviously there's way more too it.
Bio-Brumby about 3 years ago
Hi Admin3, I am summarising queries I posted a week ago, that seem to have dropped to near the bottom of this page. So a quick reminder that on:-25-Nov I queried the reason two topics were reintroduced (trapping & fencing) “because several participants have asked for this forum to be reopened” – When I could not find such requests on “Do you have a topic to discuss” chat page. I asked if we should we be using a different page/system to ask for new or reintroduced topics? 26-Nov Admin3 reply included “In determining new forums to be opened, they must first be specifically related to an area of the Wild horse Management Plan (2008), in order to be valuable to reviewing and re-drafting the new Plan which will be placed out for public consultation in mid-2015.26-Nov I replied to Admin3 “Perhaps to avoid us wasting time suggesting topics not within the review parameters, these parameters can be stated on top of the “topic to discuss” page, so we all understand what is acceptable and what is not.” I also now ask why, if we can only discuss items which specifically relate to the 2008 wild Horse Mgmt Plan, why are there questions like “are there any other control methods or management approaches that we should consider?” and “aerial shooting” included in the Kitchen table discussion guide”? I must say I am now rather confused on whether we are only reviewing what happened during the current plan, or looking for additional ideas?” Look f/w to Admin3 reply, Regards, Bio-Brumby
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Catherine Russell about 3 years ago
Hi Bio Brumby, 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.pdfA 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 has received more views than any other forum and the topic of 'fencing' has been an ongoing point of discussion in the full range of consultation activities not just in the online engagement. The current Wild Horse Management Plan indicates the range of control methods available as at 2008. In recognition of the broad and informed community that has provided valuable input online, it was important to garner from this community whether there are additional management approaches in practice elsewhere in the world that may be worthy of further investigation. 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.
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Donna about 3 years ago
Admin, once again I'm confused by your response. You state that the current plan indicates control methods available as at 2008 and that this consultation process has been used to garner information on whether additional management approaches in practice elsewhere in the world may be worthy of further investigation, and yet I'm aware that information provided to those attending the 21st Century Town Hall Meeting did not include updated information on fertility controls; in particular advising that it is still an impractical method due to trapping and handling of horses being required, when in fact this is incorrect and based on outdated information. How were the respondents expected to make an informed decision based on erroneous data? Why has NPWS chosen to ignore the advances in this method of control and failed to update their literature to reflect those advances?
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Catherine Russell about 3 years ago
Hi Donna could you point us directly to the literature to which you refer. Does it indicated a trial of fertility control or an in field method? Is there available cost benefit and effectiveness evidence on which to model this methods introduction to a park the scale of KNP? The intention of this consultation is to review the current Wild Horse Management Plan and to update it. Therefore taking in supplementary material that will update the plan and its supporting literature base. The redrafted plan also receives the input from an Independent Technical Reference Group which may provide further supplementary evidence to update the management practices of wild horses in KNP. Importantly, to ensure the consultation is fair and equitable, all people involved online or in person in various ways are presented with the same/current Wild Horse Management Plan. To update the plan or the supporting evidence while the consultation is in progress and without technical and expert review would compromise the evolution of the plan. All input will be considered and the Wild Horse Management Plan updated accordingly before being placed on public exhibition next year, where new literature, thinking or evidence may have been incorporated. If you have literature which you think NPWS should review as part of the redrafting process please link it here or send it directly to protect.snowies@environment.nsw.gov.au
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Bio-Brumby about 3 years ago
Hi Donna and Admin,Luckily someone at the 21st Century Town Hall mtg was able to persuade the organisers to provide a verbal update on the ability for Fertility Control to be delivered by dart gun to wild horses NOT TRAPPED, i.e. free roaming. This vaccine application has been used in the USA for many years, A submission will be presented to the Independent Technical Reference Group, although it has been reported many times, it seems the review personnel are hesitant to accept this information and to update their information/records. Regards, Bio-Brumby
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Donna about 3 years ago
Thank you Bio-Brumby, I had not seen this response from Admin until now but your reply is more than sufficient explanation I feel. I do hope the Technical Reference Group accept the information on the viability of fertility control via darting, but regardless I feel it's essential that NPWS correct any info sheets or literature they're providing to the public to reflect the well known advances in this method; failing to do so is intentionally misleading.
peter_mcc over 3 years ago
I didn't see an answer to costs but reading the 2008 plan I think that it is only ever going to be suitable for very small areas where there are few public visitors. I don't see it as something that would reduce the need to greatly lower the number of horses in the park.
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coastwatcher about 3 years ago
Fencing isn't going to happen. The NSW Government is cash strapped committed to billions of $ of costly infrastructure with a much higher priority. The cost of even limited fencing would run into the hundreds of thousands of $ by the time you consider the cost of the material transporting it in getting the labour in etc
peter_mcc over 3 years ago
Admin - Do you have any estimates of what it would cost to fence off areas? (ie cost per km for various types of terrain)- How much would it cost to maintain any fencing?- Would fencing maintenance require more 4wd tracks to be made?- What sort of fence are we talking about? How high? Barbed wire on top? Electrified?I think this is important information for the discussion - to be stupid about it, if a 10cm high fence cost $0.01/km and kept out brumbies it might be ok. If it was 2m high barbed wire topped at $1M/km then it would seem out of the question. Obviously the truth lies somewhere in the middle!
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nicole over 3 years ago
Thanks for your questions Peter_mcc. We'll provide a response shortly. Thank you for your continued participation in these forums.
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Themba about 3 years ago
Interested to know if there is a response to Peter_mcc's request. Admin3, do you have any response as it doesn't appear to be on this forum?
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Catherine Russell about 3 years ago
Thanks Themba and Peter_mcc. In progressing this management approach, cost and effectiveness would be key considerations. establish a cost benefit analysis for fencing in sensitive areas we would need to first pilot this approach to determine its effectiveness and then understand the area to be fenced as well as its locality to existing access points in the National Park.
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Themba about 3 years ago
Thanks for the reply Admin. It is known that parks have already trialled fencing out particular areas in the park, perhaps these areas could be used as an example to establish the cost benefit and effectiveness?
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Catherine Russell about 3 years ago
Thanks Themba. We are following through your request. We look forward to linking to some relevant material before the consultation closes.
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Themba about 3 years ago
Thanks Admin, that would be very helpful for this forum.
Khankhan over 3 years ago
Good questions Peter_mcc. If large areas were fenced access (gates or frames) across country would need to be in place for fisherpersons, bushwalkers, cross country skiers, speleologists, etc. On existing fire trails access would be required for Rural Fire Service, Police, SES, Snowy Hydro, not to mention NPWS - and these would be large and costly gates. They all increase staff time, and in the case of a fire or other emergency, that time could be critical. In all, in my opinion, fencing options are very expensive and require constant maintenance and more staff and access tracks along the fenceline. Therefore more erosion, more weeds, unintentional injury and death to non-feral animals and birds (macropods and emus come to mind).Then there is the loss of visual amenity and experience to park users as they are confronted by yet another man-made introduced element into our diminishing back-country environment. No more short cuts for users (because there is no gate to get through), even horse riders would have to 'go around' and special gates put in to allow their through access (yet more expense).Finally, just how much additional damage and impact would be created by installation of vast areas of fencing? Would it really protect Kosci? Its a feral horse problem, not a fence issue we should be dealing with.
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HVBA Vice President about 3 years ago
Khankhan I am surprised that in order to protect the park you think that it is ok to kill an innocent animal that had no choice in being in there, but not inconvenience a few bushwalkers/fisherpersons/etc. If the area is really that sensitive, perhaps bushwalkers and co. should be also excluded from that area. The park is there to protect the environment, as many people like to remind me, so why should tourists, that can actually choose to go around that area be given free reign but the horses, which do not understand that they are in the wrong place should not. We are not talking about a large amount of fencing, just enough that those particularly sensitive ecocsystems can be protected. Obviously there would need to be considerations for firefighting, but there are many places within the KNP that firefighters cannot access, so I'm sure we could come to a solution for this. I am constantly told that because I care for the welfare of the horses, I must not care for the environment, but I would rather not visit a sensitive area so it can be protected, than keep it open just so I can walk through it without having to climb through a fence, which by the way is the other option, its not hard to do. Fencing provides the best of both worlds, it is the most humane option available for the horses, and it will save the environment quickest of all because it completely excludes the horses from the area, something no other management tool offers. Look at that, animal welfare and environmental conservation going hand in hand, who would have thought.
Bio-Brumby about 3 years ago
To Admin,You have just reintroduced two earlier topics “because several participants have asked for this forum to be reopened”. I can’t find such requests on “Do you have a topic to discuss” chat page - Should we be using a different page/system to ask for new or reintroduced topics? for such as these 2;a) Average $1074 to passively remove a wild horse from KNP, andb) Fencing introduced animals out of sensitive areasTo Admin alsoThere seem plenty of new discussion chat page requests already to select from, such as;a) Impacts resulting from the extinction of Australia's Mega Fauna on the environment, and is the brumby simply taking the role of the Mega Fauna in turning the wheels of biodiversity?b) What is happening overseas with wild horses?c) The value of studying positive impacts horses can have on their environment, such as plant & animal inter-dependencies on horse grazing behaviour as without a benefits study we may make a mistake by removing horses.d) Wild horses genetic testing i.e. some KNP wild horses display distinctive pale colouring on their bodies associated with primitive horse breeds. As domestic horse populations are increasingly in-bred we should investigate Wild Horse DNA to understand their possible future value.e) Discussion topic on impacts as a percentage across in each KNP sub-region. "Traditional photos attributed to horse impacts indicate high impact levels, for example by Cowambat’s exclusion zone. How would you compare the photo as a percentage of the impacts across that sub-region of KNP? Consider classifying impacts as low [negligible], medium [damage is transitory or part of natural cycles] or high [sustained over 12 months]f) Have any species have disappeared from KNP over the past 200 years and have any new species appeared over the same period, and have wild horse populations played a role in these results.Regards, Bio-Brumby
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nicole about 3 years ago
Hi Bio-Brumby. The current method of control has been discussed from many different angles in many different forums. Given that this this is the current control method employed by NPWS it is important that all aspects of this method are considered from several different angles. This includes: what we can do to improve the rehoming rate; how much it costs to undertake trapping and rehoming; whether or not fencing is perhaps a more appropriate way to minimise the environmental damage from introduced species. These are 3 particular areas on which we would like to gather some more information. It is important to note that every single forum on this site relates to a specific area within the Wild Horse Management Plan 2008. The detail of how these forums relate to this plan is outlined under the More Information tab on this site.In determining new forums to be opened, they must first be specifically related to an area of the Wild horse Management Plan, in order to be valuable to reviewing and re-drafting the new Plan which will be placed out for public consultation in mid-2015.You are correct to point out that many suggestions for forum topics have been made. I can assure you that these are constantly reviewed, but as outlined above, they must be considered within the parameters of this consultation and the time available.
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Bio-Brumby about 3 years ago
Hi Admin, Thanks for quick response,Perhaps to avoid us wasting time suggesting topics not within the review parameters, that you state these parameters at the top of the topic to discuss page, so we can all be clear on what is acceptable and what is not.The more transparent this review process is the better for all of us I feel.Cheers, Bio-Brumby
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Catherine Russell about 3 years ago
Thank you Bio Brumby. We point you to the Information Sheet that outlines this initial period of consultation http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/resources/protectsnowies/140550Snowies4.pdf
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Donna about 3 years ago
I'm confused as to the relation between the link you've provided and the question asked by Bio-Brumby; I cannot find specific guidelines for topics of discussion in the document, only a brief outline of the chain of events. I agree wholeheartedly with Bio-Brumby's comments regarding the parameters being clearly set - we are discussing aerial culling as an option continually, despite the permanent ban put in place in 2000 and no real indication by the Minister of it being overturned and this begs the question why. Should we not only be discussing available options of management? What was the intention of asking people to offer topics for discussion without providing adequate guidelines?
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Catherine Russell about 3 years ago
Hi Donna, you have been a significant contributor to the online consultation over a lengthy period of time, participating in almost every forum and on many topics that have been put forward here and we appreciate your involvement. As the intention of this site is to review the current Wild Horse Management Plan, which is clearly stated in several areas on this site, then the parameters for topics of discussion are all areas covered within the Wild Horse Management Plan, what is working, what isn't, what we need to know more about and giving people an opportunity to bring forward new advice, literature and thinking to inform the redraft and to be subject to review by the Technical Reference Group. The table of contents in the Wild Horse Management Plan is a very clear guideline of the parameters of this online discussion http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/resources/nature/KNPHorseManagementPlanFinal08.pdf
cjmb over 3 years ago
A major problem is the sentimental view of horses. They were introduced for a purpose that seemed a good idea at the time (remember cane toads?). That purpose (cattle grazing of the high country) is no longer acceptable and the horses should be removed. In the present situation, they are vermin and should be eradicated. As Populations, points out, they are no different from other hoofed animals. None of these animal have a place in a National Park. (Indeed, ski resorts don't either). But they may be tolerated in areas of lesser biological importance, and that would require separation by fencing. The American designation of wilderness areas is a model - you can ride horses there, go walking and camping. But no wheeled vehicles are allowed.Fencing presents significant logistic issues. Deciding the boundaries then erecting and maintaining fences is a large, prolonged and expensive task. Meanwhile, the hoofed vermin continue to multiply and cause damage. Heavy and forceful culling is needed."Re-homing" is not going to fix the problem of pigs, goats, deer or horses.
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Jen over 3 years ago
I don't think a single person has mentioned re-homing pigs, goats or deer. Fencing may be an expensive investment, but so too is aerial culling brumbies. I'd rather see the money that would go towards a few people shooting brumbies from a helicopter go towards the employment of far more people in the construction and maintenance of fencing off environmentally fragile areas.
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peter_mcc over 3 years ago
I think Cjmb meant that if they were culling horses from the air they could kill any other feral animals they saw at the same time.I don't imagine you'd get much fencing for the cost of aerial culling.
Bio-Brumby over 3 years ago
Hi cjmb,I support your view that the American designation of wilderness areas includes riding horses, walking and camping, but no wheeled vehicles.However I differ re: the view a major problem for KNP is the sentimental view of horses. Horses were introduced, as you say for a good reason at the time. New fauna and flora 'arrive', if they survive, the ecology adapts/incorporates the chance to embrace any new bio-diversity they bring. 200 years plus of horse generations in KNP, evolving with the environment, means those species that are now benefiting from the horses presence will struggle if horses are totally removed. How KNP looked before European settlers is not known, and we cannot turn the clock back to it anyway as too many other influencing factors have played their part. In my view, horses are not something to be eradicated, but controlled. Controlled horse numbers will enable biodiversity that has benefited from horses to continue. My message is lets control horse numbers to gain optimum benefit for KNP. Regards, Bio-Brumby
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Mbidgee about 3 years ago
Horses have not been in KNP for 200 years. White man and his horses arrived in Sydney about 220 years ago, and it would have been another hundred yearsbefore a few horses got to the Snowies. Significant numbers of horses have only been there for about the last 50 years. I doubt that there are any native species that have benefitted from horses being in the snowies that are not also on vast areas of land that have stock (outside the park) so the there is no need to maintain horses in the park to enable biodiversity that may benefit from horses.
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Donna about 3 years ago
"Horses have been present in the Kosciuszko area since the 1830's when Europeans first explored the region (NPWS 2003). Over time many horses were released or escaped and populations of horses soon became established in the mountains" - excerpt from KNP Horse Management Plan 2008.
Donna over 3 years ago
"Heavy and forceful culling" is no more than a short term fix, fencing on the other hand is a long term solution. We have fencing for rabbits, emus, foxes and wild boar but when proposed for horses it's far too costly? Sounds like a cop out to me...
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peter_mcc over 3 years ago
I'm not sure that culling is a short term fix any more than fencing is a long term one. Both need "maintenance". If the horse numbers were greatly reduced then it would be easy to keep their numbers in check with either smaller culls or by catch/remove/rehome. The fencing would require maintenance in the long term as well.Does the KNP have fencing for rabbits/foxes/wild boar? I thought as feral animals the aim was to kill them rather than restrict their movements.
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Donna over 3 years ago
Culling is most definitely considered a short term solution, albeit a highly inadequate one. Greatly reducing horse numbers via a cull would result in increased breeding by the remaining horses, therefore again increasing the number to be controlled, hence it is not a solution but one part of a management approach in certain circumstances. I was referring to the 'rabbit proof fence' etc across our country, as examples.
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peter_mcc over 3 years ago
Would it greatly speed up their breeding if the numbers were reduced a lot? Has anyone done a study on wild horse breeding patterns? How often do they "miss" an opportunity to breed at the moment? I thought they would just breed at whatever rate they could no matter what the population was.I know horses are considered "smart" but I didn't realise they would alter their breeding patterns because of population changes.
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HVBA Vice President about 3 years ago
Its not a matter of them being smart, its just a matter of more resources allowing a population to grow at a fast rate than less resources, when a population is smaller, its growth rate can be at the maximum because there are plenty of resources, when its larger, there are less resources and so the population will not grow at the maximum rate.
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peter_mcc about 3 years ago
HVBA Vice PRes - I know you don't seem to give any weight to the horse count numbers but is there any evidence that the rate of growth of a small population (ie after a big cull) is going to be numerically bigger than the current rate of growth given a big population?That's how I interpret Donna's comment about increased breeding following a cull. As I see it, 1000 horses breeding at their maximum rate is going to result in a lot less horses in 5 years than 5000 horses breeding slowly at their current rate. And so I don't believe that culling is a "short term" solution - knocking the population down substantially now should mean that trapping can keep it under control no matter how fast they breed.
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HVBA Vice President about 3 years ago
I'm not sure about any sort of hard evidence, but the rate of growth after the 2003 fires was about 21% I think (sorry I couldn't be bothered trying to find it exactly but its in Dawson 2009) and the rate of growth over the last 5 years, if you include the 2000 horses that have been removed is only 11%. So it looks like they were growing at maximum rate back then, and have now slowed to half that. I'm sure there will be papers out there on this type of thing, I just haven't looked for them yet. I might try and have a look next week because I think its an important point to know. If we can work this out it will help us set targets as the population gets smaller so that we don't fall behind.
Donna about 3 years ago
I'm yet to find the link, but I'm certain I've read that compensatory reproduction is not simply a result of more food, less to feed, but rather a defence mechanism of any species when threatened with 'extinction'. Though of course as humans doing the 'management' we understand there is no real threat of extinction, the horses themselves do not and as such react with increased breeding compared to normal patterns as a response. Certainly not a matter of intelligence, but instinct.
youngconservationist about 3 years ago
Culling is not short term is feral horses are eradicated as should be the aim of all feral animal control. How do you control numbers in the fenced off areas? Let starvation occur? The fundamental lack of ecological understanding with many pro horse people make any reasonable discussion on this topic difficult. Statements like horses benefit biodiversity and fencing is a long-term solution boggle the mind.
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Donna about 3 years ago
Even the SOP on aerial culling describes it as a short term last resort! Honestly, unreasonable comments by people like yourself make any reasonable discussion nigh on impossible, let alone difficult. It's not about controlling the horses within the fenced off areas, rather a case of fencing off vulnerable/sensitive areas - definitely a long term decision.
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youngconservationist about 3 years ago
That means most of the park! It would make KNP the only protected area I know of that goes to such lengths, at such expensive to allow a feral destructive species to occur in a protected area so a few vocal horse lovers are happy. Culling is needed to reduce population substantially, if not eradicate, with follow up culling every few years. I cant think of a single feral species that does not require ongoing management. Will the horse just stop breeding and decide to live in harmony with nature? Large scale aerial shooting may be temporary but management likely in form of culling will be required. Again lack of ecological knowledge, with a personal belief system in contradiction to purpose of national parks - protect natural heritage!
Themba about 3 years ago
Funny, you appear to be rather biased against the pro horse people. Perhaps you don't understand that pro horse people can actually be scientists and conservationist as well? I would suggest you open your mind up a bit.
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youngconservationist about 3 years ago
People pro horses in national parks may be scientists (geologists, chemists) but i doubt conservationists. If they are, they are letting emotions cloud the science. I know many scientists that own and love horses. I have asked all of them and not one has said feral horses should be in KNP. Can you could point out a single qualified conservation scientists that is pro feral horses in KNP? I would be eager to here their thoughts. My mind is open, but my views are based on evidence. Are yours? I agree in some places there is need for grazing. Usually this is done by natives but in some places cattle or sheep or horses may be needed. For example, grazing by sheep in protected grasslands near the ACT appears to be important for conserving our grasslands. However, I have not heard this argument (by a scientists) for anywhere in KNP.
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Themba about 3 years ago
Why do you doubt the pro horse people being conservationists? Yes, my views are based on evidence, having lived for over 50 years on a property boarding the park I would hazzard to say that the evidence colouring my views is most likely stronger than the evidence you are going by.The personal opinion of your scientist friends is just that, personal opinion.... Scientist are people just like anyone else and have their own personal opinion on things, good or bad.Don't you find it strange that the ACT grazes sheep in protected grasslands where the ACT government has killed all the native Kangaroos because they were "causing environmental damage"? It seems that grazing by hard footed animals is ok when it suits the government and the people who side with.
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youngconservationist about 3 years ago
Because conservationists care for natural heritage and horses impact on that. Same way evolutionists are unlikely to be creationists. Anecdotal evidence from one location seen through one persons eyes is hardly evidence. The whole idea of science is a rigorous method to test theories against observations using experiments. Have you set up a horse exclusion experiment on your property? Have you measured plant and animal responses through time?"The personal opinion of your scientist friends is just that, personal opinion.... Scientist are people just like anyone else and have their own personal opinion on things, good or bad."umm. Not sure where to start. If I'm sick and I go to a both a Dr and a friend with no medical training and tell them my symptoms, and ask for diagnosis who should I trust? Maybe both could be classed as opinions but one has been trained in medical science, and has spent years learning how to diagnose. The other person has simply made some observations from their own experience and maybe some reading. I know who I trust, and the same goes for conservation scientists. If you ask me about free trade agreements I'll give an opinion, ask me about impacts of hard hard hooved feral species on fragile alpine ecosystems I'll give you views based on observation, science, and discussion with peers. There is no equivalence between your view from house and that of a trained scientists studying alpine ecosystems. Its not arrogance, its fact. Assuming your views on science are equal to someone trained in science is actually pretty arrogant.Sheep and cattle grazing was largely used 10-15 years ago when kangaroo numbers were low, as kangaroo numbers have increased stock grazing has largely been removed. Overgrazing causes the damage, and that can happen under native and feral species. I know this argument is about as useful as climate scientists trying to debate Lord Monckton and other skeptics over climate change.
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Themba about 3 years ago
Conservationists come in many forms as I am sure you are aware, many farmers conduct conservation projects on their properties and also care for the environment. I'm sure you would also be aware that anecdotal evidence of "people on the spot" so to speak is taken into account when scientific studies are conducted.Yes, to answer your question, I have set up a horse exclusion area on my property and I can honestly say that the diversity is no greater in those areas than the areas the horses have access to. The fire risk on the other hand means it has to be slashed every year. My stock are rotated on a regular basis and graze alongside native animals and yes, even "feral" animals. The fact that they are not confined to a small area means that any impact they have on the land is minimal and the environment bounces back very quickly, and from my observation, is much healthier and certainly contains more bird species.As to your example of a Doctor, if a Doctor told you that you had 2 weeks to live would you believe them and prepare to die or would be seek other opinions? Do you trust everything people tell you simply because you think they should know what they are talking about? Your statement "Assuming your views on science are equal to someone trained in science is actually pretty arrogant.", in my honest opinion, displays your own arrogance and ignorance.As to sheep and cattle grazing being largely removed in the ACT, I would be really interested to know what you are basing that on considering it is clearly stated as a grass control method by the government.To discard the opinions and observations of people who live around the park and have seen what is happening in it over many years for the opinions of people who have conducted government funded studies on the park is arrogant and shows little respect for the people who looked after the park before the government came along and took it over.
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Catherine Russell about 3 years ago
Thank you Themba and Youngconservationist your collective exchange is insightful and really indicating the range of views when it comes to examining wild horse management in a National Park environment. Please, if we can try and keep it respectful. The conversation guidelines can be found here https://engage.environment.nsw.gov.au/moderation
youngconservationist about 3 years ago
My understanding was the park was established after concern of degradation from alpine grazing. In fact I thought it was the Snowy hydro authority that requested the lands be taken over after issues with soil erosion. Is this correct?
youngconservationist about 3 years ago
If a Dr told me I had two weeks to live yes I would get another opinion. From a Dr. My last questions regards comments about slashing for fire hazard. Do you subscribe to the grazing equals no blazing argument?
HVBA Vice President about 3 years ago
Hi Youngconservationist, I am a qualified Conservation Scientist that would like some horses to remain in the park, nice to meet you. I did a bachelor of Science at Monash University, I majored in Zoology and my minor was Conservation Ecology. I have worked as an Environmental Scientist for the past 3years. This is my resume, but I do not think for one second that it means I have more knowledge of the area than Themba who has lived in the region for over 50 years. A degree does not mean everything, but I hope it will help you to understand that there actually are qualified conservation scientists that also believe the horses should not be eradicated from the park. I think we have established many times over on this forum how it is a scientifically proven impossibility, unless of course you are for fencing off the entire park. This is because migration from state forests would mean that even if you culled every single horse in the park, by next week, you would find more there. This is why I think fencing off specifically sensitive areas would be beneficial. I understand we can't exclude horses from the area in any other way. So if there are areas that people more qualified than me have determined need to be horse free, then by all means fence them. I am not letting my emotions cloud the science, here is what we know. When horses were excluded from an area for 5 years, the biodiversity of that area decreased, the abundance of invasive species increased. We know that the population counted in 2009 and the population counted this year was not statistically speaking any different to each other, meaning that they current population control practices are working. We know that it is against SOP to use Aerial culling in an area with poor vision, and that sensitive animals, such as horses, can become distressed by it. Biologist know that population growth rate is intrinsically linked to resource availability, which means we can speculate that if you make more resources available, by drastically reducing the population and hence competition for those resources, the population will increase at a higher rate. The 2001 and 2003 and 2003 and 2009 populations look different, but we would need to do a comparison of means to actually determine this and I'm not sure why they didn't in the first place as that was the whole point of doing the count, to see if the population had changed over time. But it looks like there was a drastic reduction in population by the fires and then a large increase in population before the implementation of the last management plan. Then there is the annecdotal evidence, how many times do you hear people talking about how the population has exploded since the fires. This gives some evidence as to what happens when you quickly reduce the population size, as as what would happen with a cull. I think we have to be careful with how we proceed. We have a known method that is working, and is humane. While it could be improved, with things like fencing off areas that are super sensitive to horse impacts, and using fertility treatment on those mares that are unable to be transported after they are trapped and have to be released, etc. I do not understand why people are still calling for the use of an inhumane method that will have unknown consequences and unknown costs.
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youngconservationist about 3 years ago
Well it should not be a matter of degree verse non degree, but qualified expert who understands the science behind impacts and management and is not clouded by emotions. I have heard people with degrees say completely incorrect things many times. While I appreciate you taking the time to articulate your point, it is clearly driven by philosophy.Mine is to, but in this case my philosophy (conservation) is aligned with the purpose of a national park. My views would clash on a message boards for farming, yours may not.My understanding is there over 10,000 horses in the park. Whether that is now stable or not is not the point, the point is there are 13,000 large feral animals in a national park!!! This is a big concern For a discussion like KNP is trying to have to be productive, both sides (and there are clear sides here) need to first agree upon certain facts. Fact 1 - The primary aim of a national park is to protect natural heritage.This is legal definition. When culture and conservation clash, conservation wins... legally speaking. Unfortunately for yourself and others this does not include horses. But given most of Australia is not a National Park and can have horses roaming, you should be ok.Fact 2 - Horses impact natural heritage. This has not only be shown, but is pretty obvious when you think about the size and number of horses now roaming the park. You seem to somewhat agree with this.Fact 3 - KNP could eradicate horses if they wanted to. I have worked in National parks surrounded by agricultural regions and have never seen issues with horses. Pigs, foxes, rabbits yes. But not horses. A general rule of thumb - the bigger the animal the easier to control. Its just a matter of will. Your opinion 1. Because animals may or may not become stressed by aerial culling we should not do it.While I somewhat admire your stance on animal welfare, given that tens of thousands of livestock that are slaughtered each week I find it rather odd that horses are getting all this attention? Are you a vegetarian? Do you also protest battery hens, feedlots? Why should National Parks spent 100% of its budget on non-effective management actions like fertility control, when aerial culling is cheap, humane and reliable? Are you going to fund a fertility program? 2. Keeping horses at some level of carrying capacity (determined by resource) is desirable.I have worked on grazing management for 7 years and while animals may maintain a somewhat stable population at carrying capacity this is rarely ecologically desirable (as one species is taking in all resources). Plus, having a feral species at carrying capacity is pretty ridiculous. Do we want foxes, cats and rabbits also at carrying capacity? 3. The method of control (which appears to be doing almost nothing) is working.Over 10,000 feral species in a national park cant possibly mean success? If horses are at carrying capacity as you suggest, this actually indicates a massive fail of management. Surely that is clear?
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Donna about 3 years ago
Over 10,000 horses? Where is that number coming from?? Emotion has little to do with acknowledging the possibility of symbiotic relationships existing or the benefits of grazing - one need not be a scientist of any degree to come to such a conclusion. What I'm hearing from you is that you expect any genuine conservationist to ignore the benefits and focus only on the impacts and legal definitions and to be honest, coming from an obviously educated person, I find this really hard to understand. Why is it unreasonable for a conservation scientist to also believe there should be a sustainable number of horses in the park if impacts are managed along with the population? Should their scientific knowledge preclude them from approaching the issue with the aim of employing workable, deliberated management of a long term, complex issue? I think not. I think being a scientist means you question, evaluate, debate and most importantly, continue to learn with an open mind. Not everything in life conforms to our laws or a text book version of how things should be, and concentrating on the unachievable goal of entirely removing the horses because that's the way the park's 'supposed' to be, is not only narrow minded, but also a waste of time.
Themba about 3 years ago
It is always interesting to hear how people think their philosophy (opinion) is more valid than anyone else's. Fact 1. "natural heritage" can mean many things to many people. I am not aware of conservation always winning over culture, perhaps you could provide some examples?Fact 2. Yes, horses do have an impact on the environment, so do humans who visit the park in droves every year. The question is whether that impact is negative or has positives to it.Fact 3. Not actually a fact sorry, Parks couldn't eradicate the horses if they wanted to and they know it which is why there is a management plan. I would be interested to know what National Parks you have worked in and not seen any issues with horses?You opion1. "Are you a vegetarian?" Really? you really asked that and expect to be taken seriously?? "Why should National Parks spent 100% of its budget on non-effective management actions like fertility control, when aerial culling is cheap, humane and reliable?" If you do some research you will know that aerial culling is NOT CHEAP, nor is it humane or reliable. Do you really want to see park blow their entire budget on aerial culling that will not eradicate the horses but simply cause more issues such as the proliferation of wild dogs, foxes and pigs?2. We are talking about a very large park and a population of horses that do not even come close to covering the entire park. Your grazing management is based on the carrying capacity of farm land where the stock is fenced in, not a national park where the animals are free to move around and locate their own food source (unless grazing management has changed suddenly?).3. I must have missed where HVBA Vic President said the horses are at carrying capacity sorry? I would hardly call the current method of passive trapping "doing almost nothing" considering it has contributed to a fall in numbers in the park.
Catherine Russell about 3 years ago
Youngconservationist you have made some valid points however your commentary is beginning to breach the conversation guidelines. We would like you to continue to have the opportunity to contribute and remind you of the conversation guidelines at https://engage.environment.nsw.gov.au/moderationWe point you specifically to: 2. Always respect the views of other participants even if they don't agree with you.3. Be constructive. It's okay to disagree with other forum participants, in fact we encourage debate, just keep the dialogue positive.4. 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.
Happy Jack over 3 years ago
I feel that trialing fencing, like many other soft proposals, is just treating the symptoms... not the actual cause. Increasing numbers of wild horses is the cause! Any action that does not actually reduce the number of Wild Horses in the park, is too easily seen as just delaying tactics.
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peter_mcc over 3 years ago
I agree - I can't imagine how you would fence off enough areas and then maintain the fences to keep the horses out.Plus how ugly would it be to come to a nice part of the park and find it ringed with barbed wire?
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Themba about 3 years ago
I have to say that I find it quite strange that people are calling for the horses to be removed but they don't want anything to detract from the view while they are in the park. If the fences would control the horses and keep them out of areas that are considered vulnerable then what is the issue with being able to see fences? Is it more a case of people wanting the park to look a particular way than what is best for the environment?? It would be unlikely that barbed wire would be used for the fencing as it is a hazzard to native species such as possums and birds so it would need to be strand wire which is actually cheaper than barb.
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youngconservationist about 3 years ago
interesting you say what is best for the environment as removing horses is exactly what is best for environment. Being all for a feral animals because you like them then criticizing people for complaining about the ascetics of fencing is a little strange.
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Themba about 3 years ago
What would be best for the environment would be to remove and fence out all people actually. You appear to have some strange idea that people on this forum are either all for the animals labelled feral or all against. It's not a black and white situation that can be solved by removing all the animals labelled feral. You need to be a little realistic and understand that total eradication of any animal in the park is not possible or feasible.For the record, I wasn't criticizing people for complaining about the ascetics of fencing, just trying to understand why anyone who would like the horses excluded from particularly vulnerable areas would complain about seeing fencing. Isn't it what is on the inside of fence that people would be wanting to see??
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youngconservationist about 3 years ago
Its not a mater of being labeled feral. They are feral. Eradication is a possible solution, and within a national park this should be the primary aim. Eliminating rabbits very hard, removing a highly visible slower breeding species is far easier. If parks outlined a 5 year plan to completely remove horses from national park pro horse people would be up in arms. May be convenient to hide behind statements like eradication is not possible or feasible but truth is it is possible, feasible and highly desirable from a conservation of biodiversity point of view to remove feral horses from the park.
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Themba about 3 years ago
I could point out that the native Dingo was also labelled feral and a pest and widely killed to point where it is now listed as a vulnerable species. It is very easy to label an animal feral if you don't like it and want to see it gone. Total eradication is not possible, even parks know this which is why they have a management plan. I'm not hiding being a convenient statement, I am simply stating the truth which you appear to be unable to see. From a conservation of biodiversity point of view, it is certainly not feasible without knowing what damage you will be doing to an environment that has adapted to the horses living there for nearly 200 years. As a conservationist surely you understand cause and effect??
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youngconservationist about 3 years ago
Feral and pest are different words that can not be used interchangeably like you have. Feral means non native. Dingoes are considered to be naturalized from an ecological perspective given they have been here for thousands of years and fill a role left vacated by native extinctions (marsupial lion, Tasmanian tiger). Horses in the high country do not fit this. Pest means species not wanted, and can be used to describe a native animal just as much as feral. How has the environment adapted to horses? Statements like that suggest you have all this reseal to back you up. Adaption rarely if ever (example?) operates over time-scales of 200 years, Exactly want diversification in native specie shave occurred? Have the Corroboree frogs adapted to living in destroyed sphagnum bogs for which horses can ruin? Have reptiles adapted to living in overgrazed paddocks? I understand cause and effect, but cause an effect in evolutionary terms as you seem to be suggesting has occurred, operates over tens of thousands if not millions of years. Not 100 years. Trying to use science that you don't understand to support a romantic ideology about high country feral horses is disingenuous. The difference is I could show you all the evidence in the world that horses destroy things like sphagnum bogs and overgraze grasses and you will never change your mind. You show me single bit of research that horses are not impacting natural systems and I will have no issues with horses being in park.
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Bio-Brumby about 3 years ago
Hi Youngconservationist,I support your view that "Dingoes are considered to be naturalized from an ecological perspective given they have been here for thousands of years and fill a role left vacated by native extinctions (marsupial lion, Tasmanian tiger)". I had not realised the Tasmanian tiger once lived in the Alps. However I add that horses also fill a role left vacated by native extinctions Australian Mega fauna, whose weights ranged from 1,000-2,000 kilograms (3 species) and 100-1,000 kilograms (9 species), and includes one species with a hoof like foot.Sphagnum bogs, http://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/9cc1f452-9121-44e1-aa88-80939c14d404/files/draft-recovery-plan-alpine-sphagnum-bogs.pdf "Climate change must be considered as one of the most ominous threats currently facing the Alpine Sphagnum Bogs and Associated Fens", then goes on to talk of threats from deer, pigs, rabbits, foxes, cats, humans, weeds and horses. As I try to get across, horses in KNP add to its robust health/biodiversity, IN SUSTAINABLE numbers. I agree ALL impacts need to be managed; we are wasting tax payer’s money if we spend thousands on lowering one species that is the most obvious (biggest) and leave out the rest. Regards, Bio-Brumby
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youngconservationist about 3 years ago
Thanks for reply.I think you will find Tasmanian tigers lived almost everywhere on mainland Australia. They may have left alpine areas in winter. At times I'm sure marsupial lions also occurred, if their prey were in the alps it seems obvious they would follow. In terms of replacing mega-fauna lets be sure we understand what this means. I am not aware of any arguments that the role of mega-fauna needs to be replaced in these fragile ecosystems, but certainly up north there has been some semi-serious discussion about it - http://www.news.com.au/technology/environment/bring-elephants-to-australia-says-professor-and-rhinos-and-komodo-dragons/story-e6frflp0-1226259580764I am not sure how many species of mega-fauna occurred in alpine areas, at what densities or for what time. So it’s a little farfetched to just assume horses have taken a role we barely understand. Either way there are some key differences in the ecology of mega-fauna and horses. 1. Horses are hard hooved and mega-fauna were not, although their impact on soil given weight could have been similar or greater when walking. 2. My understanding was they were rather slow. Recent research suggests the largest kangaroo did not hop, which would have severely reduced speed. If these animals were as slow moving as research suggest, impact on soil compared to a running horses must have been less. But this is unknown. 3. Mega-fauna had a range of predators. What now kills horses? Animals without external population regulation will eventually become regulated by food resource. Which means starvation and overgrazing. This is established ecology theory. And is bad news for alpine ecosystems. 4. Sphagnum bogs existed through tens and thousands of years of grazing by mega-fauna. The impacts of horses on these and other aspects of alpine ecosystems strongly suggest horses have a very different impact than past native species. 5. Mega-fauna were very slow breeding, and lived at low populations densities. This is in fact a reason given for how aboriginals were able to wipe mega-fauna out. Does not take much hunting to wipe out slow breeding slow to mature animal. So horses breed at a much higher rate, and can live at much higher densities. This means pressure of vegetation could be much greater under horses. No one knows really what role mega-fauna may have played but it is certainly not a matter of saying horses=mega-fauna. What we do know is if horses are not regulated by any predators, populations have increased, and impacts on sensitive areas have occurred. If we had grass or shrubs growing out of control and no native herbivores eating them then maybe the argument could be made, as it has been semi-seriously made about northern Australia. I have never heard anyone make this claim for alpine areas however. I don’ understand why if one problem is greater (climate change) other problems therefore are ok. Firstly, climate change is happening, and there is little we can do about it (especially given current government). We can control feral animals however. So if its a choice between stopping climate change or controlling feral species one is far more likely to be successful.. even if other remains an issue.I keep hearing things like horses add to biodiversity, or are part of ecosystem. Provide one solid argument? What you hope, or believe occurs is not evidence. If this is to be debate with two side, we need evidence for opinions.In ecosystems without herbivores, any grazer is probably useful. However, this National Parks has plenty of herbivores to eat the grass, another mouth to feed is not needed.
youngconservationist about 3 years ago
Removed by moderator - this was a duplicate comment. Please refer to moderation rules
HVBA Vice President about 3 years ago
I remember my Boss telling me about how during the Impact Statements for several recent developments they keep finding these colonies of the endangered green and gold bell frogs (GGBF) in and around Kooragang Island, which for those of you who don't know is the place where they keep the coal before it gets shipped overeas, its also near the old steelworks, and a lot of oil refineries here in Newcastle. Now this is not only frustrating for developers, but interesting because those areas are sooooo polluted, and the GGBF is meant to be susceptible to pollution. People do not expect to find them there, yet there they are, breeding well in this "unsuitable" environment, breaking all the rules and showing that people often have no idea how a species is interacting with its environment. In just 60 years of development, could they really have evolved from a species that is extremely vulnerable to pollution, to one that thrives within it....How can you possibly know that the environment has not changed due to the presence of the horses for the past 200 years. Have you studied it? Do you know that evolution always takes millions of years. Well actually I can set you straight on that one, it is not years but generations that matter when we are talking evolution, and in the case of fruitflies, that evolution can happen within months (bacteria can do it in days). So lets just say there is this important little fly living in the KNP, it is important because there is this spider that eats it and only it, and that spider is the only protein component of a bird that also eats seeds from a native shrub, that cannot germinate unless it has been through that specific birds digestive tract. Now back to the fly. Over the course of 200 years that the horses have been inhabiting the park, the fly evolved to lay its eggs in the horses manure. Those flies maggots that ate horse manure were bigger, stronger and had more reproductive success than those that lived in wombat manure, so now they must lay eggs in the horse manure. What happens if we remove all the horses. Suddenly there is no manure. Suddenly there is no food for the spider, and now no protein for the bird, and the birds need that protein to get enough energy to go foraging for seeds, and now there is no shrubs....... I know this is a completely made up situation, but can you honestly say you don not believe the horses could have had any impact on any of the species they have been coexisting with for 200 years...
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Donna about 3 years ago
HVBA VP - It may well be a made up scenario you've suggested, but as you say it is completely feasible. As is the notion that larger, more fibrous manure such as horses would encourage more insects than say wombat or kangaroo manure would, meaning those insects are as you say food for the birds and lizards, thereby increasing their robustness and number. I'd say that's what most conservationist would call a beneficial symbiotic relationship and imagine only the most committed cynic could disagree.
youngconservationist about 3 years ago
Thanks for your comments. The case of GGBF frogs is very interesting and highlights that we often have incomplete knowledge. However, did your boss tell you where the story has gone since? Well its not that GGBF love pollution, its that one of their (and many frogs) biggest killers - chytrid does not do well in these polluted areas. So the frogs have basically ended up the only place they can.. not the place they necessary would choose. Many species are restricted to sub optimal habitat due to threats. I am actually happy you brought up evolution in terms of frogs. Frogs face a huge threat in chytrid so many people have hoped some form of resistance will occur. This has not occurred yet, so molecular biologists have asked the question - how likely is it for a frog to evolve resistance. Frogs breed quickly and are under high selective pressure from this fungus. But even so the results of modelling are not good. Could take thousands of years, if it happens at all! The probability was very very low. Evolution is a very very slow process. And their are no guarantees adaptions needed will ever come up in genetic code. So frogs did not evolve to live in polluted areas, but have been forced to because they are unable to evolve resistance to a fungus. Interesting. Change in genetic trait can take days week for fast breeding species with strong selective pressure in laboratory conditions. In nature this is not the rule, and would be an exception. There are very few examples in nature of this occurring. And the idea that an entire ecosystem has evolved with a novel large herbivore in a few hundreds years is simply impossible. If you can provide me an example of this occurring somewhere I would be interested in reading. A new stable state may occur, but this new states lack many species of previous state. In this case we are trying to maintain the old state and not see alpine areas become degraded. Plenty of degraded areas in Australia already.Well the example you give is a nice story but is very very very unbelievable. Put it this way. Whats more likely .A. In 200 years birds have developed a dependency (i.e. wont eat anything else and therefore will decline if things change) on certain spiders that feed on larger flies. orB. A large hard hooved herbivore introduced into a ecosystem that for thousands of years never had herds of large herbivores, and never had hard hooved animals has had a detrimental impact on native biodiversity Interestingly, if your story did happen this may lead to an imbalance. More big flies mean more birds, mean increased competition for food resources leading to loss of birds which don't eat these spiders. Ecosystems are fragile things, that we know little about.
peter_mcc about 3 years ago
The issue to me is that the horses shouldn't be there and so the fence shouldn't be needed. I know you don't agree with me on that one so let's let it go without starting another side issue...Yes, I'd like the park to look "a certain way" - without as many man made or man introduced changes as possible. That's what I think National Parks are about. There will be some roads/tracks/facilities/etc to allow access but they should have a minor impact on the park. So the Huts on Long Plain are ok (hidden in the trees), the power lines are not great (but aren't ever going to move). If they wanted to put a hotel/resort/etc on Long Plain so you could see it from the plain I wouldn't be ok with that.
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youngconservationist about 3 years ago
Great to see another person who wants to see National Parks do the very thing they were established to do - protect natural heritage for people to admire and enjoy!
peter_mcc about 3 years ago
I think the video is new since last time I looked - to me it shows a horse wallowing in the mud, destroying the stream.In other words, doing the sort of damage that people say the horses have been doing and others seem intent on denying.I don't think fencing is an option - the areas to fence them out of would be way too large. To protect this stream you'd have to fence all of it - which would stop the horses getting to water.
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Bio-Brumby about 3 years ago
Hi Peter_mcc,I take your point the horse is having a roll in the wider part of the stream, so I expect do other animals that enjoy a damp muddy roll.However to me the wallow section is about the size of vehicle tracks, but not so deep. The rest of the river in the front picture is narrow, and no doubt for kms either way also narrow. I feel it important we measure not just one impact, but the % of impacts in the area, that to me is balance. Just as roads, tracks, resorts etc. damage part of the park, but no calls for their removal provided the damage levels are within limits.Cheers, Bio-Brumby
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peter_mcc about 3 years ago
To me the whole area looks compromised - especially in the foreground.Roads/tracks/reports do all damage part of the park but their impacts are not really changing - they aren't making new roads and there are very few new walking tracks (the only one I know of being from Thredbo down to Thredbo Diggings). Plus the damage is in fixed locations. And if it gets too "bad" they can fairly easily do something about it (because it is so defined). The horses are over a much much larger area which makes it a lot harder to manage.
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Bio-Brumby about 3 years ago
Hi Peter_mcc,We will have to agree to disagree on the 'whole area looks compromised'.Re Horses over larger area: Are you suggesting they are going to wallow at new spots along the stream? Horses are creatures of habit and keep to their own routines, one of the benefits for the park. Cars and roads however when blocked cause side roads to increase as vehicles get around on firmer ground, they will widen damage, especially at river crossings, very quickly, until the area dries out again. Regards, Bio-Brumby
Bio-Brumby about 3 years ago
Hi Youngconservationist [tried to respond to your comment 24-Nov but could not bring up the box, so have replied here]People wanting to have sustainable horse numbers living in KNP are also conservationists, i.e. people who ‘advocate or act for the protection and preservation of the environment and wildlife’. Exclusion experiments have already been done in KNP and shown that plant and animal responses through time have resulted in Bio-Mass of tough, dry, tall grass cuts out light while outside the fenced exclusion areas is fresh green grass called bio-diversity. As a conservationist I encourage bio-diversity, do you?The key is in your words "overgrazing causes the damage, and that can happen under native and feral species". Sustainable horse numbers increase bio-diversity, overgrazing reduces it. Let’s talk sustainable numbers and move this discussion forward with sound management strategies, not focus on overgrazing since we all agree too much of anything is problematic.Regards, Bio-Brumby
youngconservationist over 3 years ago
Fencing is an expensive half measure. Culling is the only way to reduce impacts. Please don't waste the entire NPSW budget to a achieve moderate short-term gains by fencing out areas when the only solution is to reduce horse numbers. Its not rocket science. The people pushing for such ridiculous measures should be the ones paying for this. Having said that, in some areas where urgent action is needed a see a value of temporary fencing. Fencing is poor long-term solution, as some level of grazing is likely beneficial. Where do the kangaroos and wombat go to eat if we have to fence herbivores out of all sensitive grassy areas?
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RobM over 3 years ago
There are many types of exclusion fence strategies..besides cost there are issues about the size of area fenced, maintenance against vandalism. Etc. I understand that fencing is demonstrably effective for the conservation of small marsupials. As a strategy it needs to achieve multiple objectives to be worthwhile imo.
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youngconservationist over 3 years ago
Fencing for small marsupial to keep out predators would be great. However, its insanely expensive an difficult to maintain. If Parks plan on putting up a predator proof fence I'd be all for it. It is a different goal than reducing the impacts of horses.
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RobM over 3 years ago
But if there are areas where those dual aims intersect it would be worth considering. Eg where pugging demonstrably impacts on amphibians, insects and aquatic micro fauna. Fenced refuges may be viable.
Themba about 3 years ago
In the case of horses, the fencing would not need to be a predator proof fence so the cost would not be insanely expensive.
populations over 3 years ago
We are in trouble - sensitive sphagnum areas are already damaged by fire, prolonged droughts, compacting by horses and by other species - the deer are encroaching Dead Horse Gap, horses traverse the main range, wild pig right across the subalpine areas of the park. From the perspective of reducing the numbers of hard hooved animals - and they are definitely changing habitat for native species - it is clearly a question of doing just that, reducing the numbers. So far, the research seems to point at aerial shooting as the most humane method to cull feral animals. Sharp shooters in Qld, Victoria and NZ are effective. Remember the days of 'out of control' rabbit plagues across NSW? It was not a question of whether to feel sentimental about Watership Downs. It was clearly a question of removing the cause of massive loss of vegetation and soil due to intensive population of a non-native animal. Fencing comes with a different set of problems reducing the movement of kangaroos and wombats for example in the northern end of KNP and without underpasses for animals on the highways (another set of problems) that will create more deaths for native animals. Fencing has a very definite place to demonstrate the impact of a protected space / transect as distinct from a trampled transect. It is a useful scientific tool however probably vastly oversubscribed for actual catchment management. The key is to reduce - and radically, effectively and quickly reduce - the populations of all non-natives whether deer, wild dogs, wild pigs, wild horses, wild rabbits .... accurate shooting is fast. Remove the carcasses via helicopter to a central point near a road. Perhaps Australians need to think more cleverly about using wild meat / skins rather than just dumping or leaving the carcasses.
Bio-Brumby over 3 years ago
Hi Admin, Please can you add a closing date to this topic, Regards,Bio-Brumby
RobM over 3 years ago
ecologically sensitive areas and areas of threatened populations . I figure you start with a range of trials representative of the risk profile and assess from there. Fencing that also excludes other feral mammals like deer, pig, even rabbit and fox could also be considered. Seems a poor use of resources not to get maximum potential protection from the investment in infrastructure.