What could be done to improve the rehoming rate for wild horses?

by Catherine Russell, about 3 years ago
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Despite the best efforts of NPWS and rehoming groups like the Victorian Brumby Association, Hunter Valley Brumby Association and Brumbies R Us that have assisted with the rehoming program, only about 30-40% of the wild horses each year find a new home outside of the National Park. Can you suggest ways that the rehoming rate can be improved? 

THIS DISCUSSION OPENED ON 11 NOVEMBER AND WILL BE OPEN TILL 12 DECEMBER.

Information and registration details on how you can receive horses from the trapping and removal program can be found here. Have you registered your interest?
Bio-Brumby about 3 years ago
Some extra thoughts to consider on the complexities and rewards of rehoming Brumbies:- The most one rehoming group can collect; gentle year after year is around 50 annually. At best money received by selling gentled [not saddle trained] Brumbies may cover is ongoing costs to collect, geld, agist 3-4 mths 50 Brumbies per year. Business obstacles are that costs of infrastructure purchase/ repairs are not covered so require regular fund raising, staff time is never recouped so ‘rehomers’ rely on volunteers and access to ‘rent free’ land. If KNP maintained 5,000 Brumbies and 10% was the annual increase then 500 Brumbies must be removed annually. KNP Park staff already have the skills and infrastructure to trap such numbers, having trapping 670 KNP Brumbies in one year. To rehome 500 Brumbies annually, we need 10 rehoming charities to take 50 KNP Brumbies annually. With buyers look for different horse types, not all Brumbies are likely to sell which reduces the ability to collect more Brumbies to gentle. Only 1-2 NSW rehoming groups & one Victorian have consistently rehomed 50 Brumbies each year. If anyone is thinking of setting up a new rehoming Charity, check existing groups, read link http://australianbrumbyalliance.org.au/humane-management/re-homing/ - talk to your local Park office and fill out an EOI to rehome from KNP per link top of this page, there is much to consider before beginning such a worthwhile role. Seed funding to cover set-up costs for new charities, and ongoing annual grants to approved rehoming charities to cover infrastructure repairs, improvements would create a cost neutral basis for charities run on volunteer time, on rent free land. We also need to build in audits to keep all sides on track, and minimise Brumbies being trucked to abattoirs that may have been more humane to be euthanized at the trap site.Regards, Bio-Brumby
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InterestedObserver about 3 years ago
Based on that, a sustainable number of horses in the NSW & Victorian Alps (from a re-homing perspective) would be 1500 horses. But, given compensatory reproduction would likely occur, you'd have to figure on maybe 20% needing removal and re-homing, so a sustainable population (from a re-homing perspective) would be more like 750 horses in NSW & Victoria.
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Bio-Brumby about 3 years ago
Hi InterestedObserver,Sustainable KNP Brumby numbers for me means numbers the areas they live in can seasonally recover their robustness, i.e. any wear and tear factors are within normal seasonal limits. In time with fertility control, we can reduce the numbers needed to be rehomed. The key goal here, and I think for most 'rehomers', is to have the Brumbies living in their wild state. Rehoming is an extra way we assist Brumbies removed under Park trapping programs to have the chance of new life, and the riding public to benefit from owning a Brumby. Rehoming for me, and many groups, is not a primary objective, but a value added program. So I return to the suggested sustainable number of 5,000 Brumbies in KNP with Parks passive trapping of 500 annually being a proven achievable goal. Rehoming as many as can be rehomed and the rest euthanized on site using the appropriate Codes of Practice for this situation. Regards, Bio-Brumby
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InterestedObserver about 3 years ago
I think sustainable needs to be sustainable enviromentally - ie a minimal number of horses causing impacts, and that population growth even if at high rates can be easily prevented;sustainable economically - not spending $600 000 on trapping programs that don't prevent population increases; andsustainable from a re-homing perspective - the number of horses needing removal should not exceed the capacity of rehoming groupsgenetically sustainable - issues from inbreeding are avoided.
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Bio-Brumby about 3 years ago
Hi InterestedObserver, Humm, Interesting multi-approach views on sustainability. Re: Sustainable environmentally, I'd repeat the above “recover their robustness, i.e. any wear & tear factors be within normal seasonal limits”.Re: Population controls, 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 populations of up to 700 Brumbies in a given area without trapping, Wild horses can be reduced to sustainable populations, in my view.Re: Sustainable economically, I refer to the above trapping, adding that infrastructure, being already in place, and skills developed, basically it is down to staff time, so costs are less. Since my position is they can manage the population levels with trapping and fertility controls dart delivered to free roaming wild horses, costs would in fact decrease from $1,000 per horse trapped to $35 per horse darted every 3-4 years.Re: sustainable from a re-homing perspective, the more fertility control is used; the more ability rehoming groups have to manage any excess.Re: Genetically sustainable, yes; we need to keep horse populations well above genetically viable levels per identified area to cope with over a 50% drop during wild fires, as occurred in 2003. Regards, Bio-Brumby
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InterestedObserver about 3 years ago
"recovery of robustness" would only occur if the cause of the impact was removed to allow recovery. That clearly isn't happening so the impacts of horses isn't sustainable. And ‘normal seasonal limits’ wouldn’t include the impacts of horses at all.10% removal per year isn’t catering for the current population growth (HVBA VP, this forum).I’d like to see more about the developments in fertility control, however darting 700 horses isn’t going to impact the population growth much. It may reduce population growth in an isolated area containing a closed population of horses, but would have little impact park wide. And you’d probably need good access if it’s only costing $35 - so you’d probably be better off trapping in those locations anyway. Do you have a breakdown of the costs of darting? $35 would be great but I imagine that only covers the cost of the chemical, not employee (& vet?) time to administer the dose, let alone the time/expense to get into a position to administer the dose. I doubt the use of volunteers to keep costs down would be acceptable to the broader community, given the recent uproar regarding volunteer shooters in parks.
Catherine Russell about 3 years ago
Perplexed about 3 years ago
I think a little bit of context also needs to be put around this discussion. We need to remember that the feral horses removed from KNP are competing against the 'Wastage' and thousands of unwanted horses from other horse sources: Read here:http://kb.rspca.org.au/What-is-horse-wastage-in-the-racehorse-industry_235.htmlorhttp://questequinewelfare.org/attachments/article/53/Flyer.%20Excess%20Breeding.pdf"In 2002 it was estimated that Australia had 1.2 million horses including Thoroughbred and Standardbred racehorses. A large number of horses exit the Thoroughbred and Standardbred racehorse industries each year though there is limited research on the full extent of the wastage problem in Australia. It is estimated that out of 1000 pregnancies in Thoroughbred Australian mares only 300 foals will actually race. The structure of the breeding industry is such that it depends on the need for ‘replacement’ racehorses however, this high rate of horse turn-over raises serious concerns about the fate of the horses leaving the industry. Similar pre-racing wastage has been found in Standardbred horses (trotters and pacers)."I do not know how accurate these reports and figures are, but if it is anywhere near the quoted 40,000 horses per year in Australia alone going to abbatoir from all the sourses and only about 20% of these from wild stocks, your problem does not lie with this source. Whilst I believe that it is a good thing that parks try to rehome as many horses as possible, probably more driven by community attitude and sentiment than anything, and no one likes to see waste, or for that matter to unnecessarily shoot or euthanse an animal, even if it is feral, let alone a horse, unfortunately this is a reality.I know other contibutors don't want to hear or discuss, or even acknowledge this facet of the issue, but for me it really is the nub of it, around why other control measures need to be seriously considered and employed to reduce the population quickly, and the lack of rehoming oportunities needs to be and taken into consideration.Whilst I respect what our horse loving friends are trying to achieve by rehoming, and take my hat off to them as volunteers and animal welfare devotees, I do not think this process of rehoming is sustainable long term in regard to demand or financially. Refer the US mustang situation of horses siting in tax payer funded feedlots to the tune of US$ billions per year, because they can't bring themselves to euthanase a horse. It logically raises the issue for me then why do people keep asking for a unnaturally large wild horse population to be retained in KNP that requires ongoing harvesting of horses off the top of this population, which just keeps feeding this practice and perpetuates this cycle. That to me is inhumane.
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peter_mcc about 3 years ago
Oversupply of horses is a tough issue - if everyone else is giving them away then it's going to be hard for the KNP horses to be sold to cover costs. And it's going to be hard for brumby lovers to do an effective marketing campaign. The USA mustang situation is just nuts - I hope it never happens here.
Donna about 3 years ago
By the same token, every single horse on the market is competing with the 'wastage' of the racing industry, or any other industry for that matter. There will always be people who don't care for the animals they have and give them away for nix - that doesn't mean the ones being sold are worth any less, brumby or otherwise. It is indescribably sad and shameful the amount of life that is distinguished without a seconds thought in abattoirs across our country, regardless of where they come from or their breeding - our Govt. has a massive case to answer for allowing unimpeded breeding by every Tom Dick or Harry and unrestricted breeding in all aspects of the horse industry, it's a disgrace. Does any of it alter the fact that Brumbies are consistently found to be calm, level headed and well natured horses who suit themselves perfectly to being a child's horse or an adult mount in many disciplines? I think not. I disagree strongly with the idea that Parks are only trying to rehome as many horses as possible because of public sentiment more than anything - why must those who love these horses and advocate for them be seen as 'sentimental' fools or people driven by emotion? Why can't it be a case of Parks not shooting the horses because it's the right, just and humane thing to do? Increased support for the re homing groups from NPWS will help to ensure the increased success of the program - building on what has already been established in a relatively small time.
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HVBA Vice President about 3 years ago
Perplexed you have hit the nail on the head when you say that the problem is that the horses are competing with so much wastage, so to improve the rehoming rate we need to reduce the wastage across the country. This might seem ambitious, but it is really not. If we want to reduce the number of feral cats, we tell people to keep their cats inside, to desex them, we legislate so that breeding is more controlled. Why is this not seen as part of the solution to the wild horse "problem". Horse owners and particularly breeders in this country need to start taking responsibility for the wastage problems. If we could start calling for more regulation of horse breeding or even just of horse owning. People do not pay council registration for their horses in the way they do for their dogs and cats, most people do not microchip either. But they could. If you had to pay local council for every horse you had on your property, it might stop the people who think oh it would be so nice to get a foal for the kids to play with. Never mind that they have absolutely no need for or experience with foals. Never mind that it will end most likely end up a dangerous, unhandled two year old that will need to be rehabilitated by one of the various domestic horse rescue organisations out there because the owners are irresponsible. Imagine if all those organisations currently dedicated to rescuing those unhandled domestics or even those that rescue discarded racehorses didn't need to do that job anymore and so could take Brumbies instead....
Perplexed about 3 years ago
You imagine the outcry if government stepped in to regulate horse breeding, or maybe it's more to do with taxes it reaps from gambling? That's why I personally don't support the racing industry. I'm off the subject and that's probably best in a different forum.I'm not sure I agree whether it should be the role of NPWS to support those groups who want to re home horses other than making them available to them at no cost if they want them. I didn't see a charge in their registration package to take horses. Again I question the value of tax payer dollars to keep a program, that is allowing and perpetuating the breeding of a introduced species, that no one wants and is obviously going to slaughterhouses in large quantities each year because no one wants them.Point is, it like calling for government funding to create more RSPCA shelters for unwanted cats and dogs and not addressing the issues of puppy and kitten factories, you need to treat the problem at the source. Did anyone see the governments recent moves to prohibit the keeping of foxes in NSW? And whilst the references I provided before show that feral, (sorry wild) horse populations are not the major source or contributor, and yes I agree that they should be regulating the other sectors, the wild horse population, they certainly are significant sector , and this population has the potential to keep growing as a sector in that contribution towards pointless horse slaughter. Particularly if pragmatic control and reduction of their contributing populations is prevented to be undertaken because of public sentiment and ignorance on this issue.As for Parks doing the 'right, just and humane thing' I think that is the crux of this whole disscussion. Why would they want to keep running and perpetuating a horse farm or stud in KNP to keep feeding the ongoing horse slaughter industry of unwanted horses they have to keep harvesting off the top of the wild population each year? As far as I know they make no money from this, it cost them money and resources. That to me says they should aim for zero population if not the smallest population possible to be permitted in KNP if that's what it takes to satisfy community wants for a wild horse population.The more I think about it the more frustrated I become. I believe many involved in this discussion can't see that those who are calling for a quick, effective and in my view humane solutions to this issue are not doing so out of a hatred for horses, or blood lust and want for shooting, but in actual fact quite the contrary, you would find that like myself they are very strong animal welfare advocates seeking the protection of native flora and fauna species, who have no voice, or specific support or protection group, and also do not want to see this ongoing harvesting of horses which is required with the current situation and if allowed to continue be the future of many, many horse generations to come. I suppose what I am trying to say is that many of us may be more aligned than many think in this discussion. Some tough decisions ahead!
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Donna about 3 years ago
You can't have it both ways - the brumbies are either a small contributor to the overall 'wastage' problem, or they're not. And I think we both know which it is. I'm not sure if you're aware, but there are actually thoroughbred studs in this country who purposely breed for the 'export' market - meaning they intentionally breed stock simply for slaughter and human consumption. There will always be slaughter, there will always be export and most unfortunate of all, there will always be wastage. This however, is not attributed to the brumby 'sector' and therefore is not part of this issue to my mind. We cannot simply dismiss the idea of attaining them homes just because there are other horses seeking them, any more than we can cease all child adoptions because women keep having babies.It's not really about what 'Parks' want - they are custodians of public land, designed to be enjoyed by all and that includes those who want to see the brumbies and care for their welfare, hence whether or not they see it as you do and feel they're running a 'stud' for the processing industry, their obligation is to the public they serve, the park itself and the humane management of any species considered a pest on that land. In that vein, it's not costing "them" money, it's costing us as tax payers, therefore giving each and every one us the right to ask for better management, more humane practices and more sustainable planning. To me, this does not necessarily mean a zero or minimal population of horses.I share your frustration, believe me. It is incredibly frustrating to gather hours and hours of reference material, research aerial culling practices worldwide (though we stand alone in many ways in that regard), view pictures of horses shot incorrectly resulting in the most horrible of deaths, all despite the 'best intentions' to the contrary - only to continually attempt to convince others such as yourself of its barbarity and risk, with little success. It may well be 'quick', but it is quite often the opposite to 'effective' and it certainly is not humane - not by my definition anyway, and not by the standards we set for ourselves as human beings, which is the supposed basis of the very term. Are we to perpetrate such slaughter in the name of conservation, all the while feeling justified because we're only eradicating 'vermin' or 'feral' animals, to one day discover they are sentient beings of a level we never imagined, one that would see us later described as monsters for committing such evil? I want no part in that. I sincerely hope we are aligned a lot more than it may appear; to believe otherwise is to believe there is little hope for many of us to be truly humane.
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Perplexed about 3 years ago
Maybe re read my post. I acknowledged that the 'harvesting' of wild horses is not the major contributor to horses going to slaughter but at 20% it is a significant contributor and in my view if we retain a large wild population it will continue to be a significant contributor that is likely to keep growing, because I believe the re homing market has limits. (Relating back to this discussion thread).I agree with you re Parks obligations but I'd refer you back to their legal obligations, however I think you and I have a different interpretation of those legal obligations. For me it's responsibility to native plants, animals and ecosystems in the first place and introduced species that may have some cultural association are secondary. I agree with you that you have every right as a tax payer just as I, to demand efficiency in what a government department is doing. And again that to me reinforces the point in that the current program from what I have read is not efficient, or effective in reducing the horse population and it's impacts, therefore the need for change.I think we could go on for ever about the pros and cons of shooting, ground or aerial, for a long time and never reach agreement, and never change position. I still believe its relative humaneness in comparison to other control methods and options if horses are only going to be slaughtered any way, is that they are much more humane options. I think the research has shown this as well. Why has all these sources of very learned people below reached the same conclusions?Senate Select Committee on Animal Welfare, Culling of large vertebrates in the Northern Territory 1991.Aerial shooting of feral horses: HOR002 Author / Creator Sharp, Trudy; Saunders, Glen Copyright Commonwealth of Australia 2004.Department of Agriculture » Animal and Plant Health » Animal Welfare » Australian Animal Welfare Strategy - AAWS » Humaneness of Pest Animal Control Methods » Humaneness Executive Summary.Assessment of the Humaneness of Feral Horse Helicopter Shooting Operations in the Northern Territory: Tempe Downs, May 2013.Again we probably have different interpretations about what is humane. To be permitting and perpetuating a wild horse population of a size that requires continuous high numbers of harvesting of horses resulting in large numbers of horses having to go to slaughter because they can not be re homed to me is in humane.
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Donna about 3 years ago
I agree we'll have to disagree on the aerial culling issue and ask that you recognise the references you've provided are for the majority developed and designed for use in the NT, not terrain such as we have in KNP, hence my firm belief it should not and cannot be effectively and humanely used. I'd like to add though, just for clarification, even when aerial culls were carried out as per the above humaneness standards, there were animals left suffering, in Tempe Downs in particular.
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Perplexed about 3 years ago
Disagree. Having walked and skied extensively all over KNP there are many areas where there are significant populations of horses that need controlling that I believe have terrain and vegetation cover that would be well suited to shooting, both ground and aerial. I grant you there are many areas also that it would not be suitable and other methods would need to be employed, but that is just my opinion. I do not claim to be an expert in aerial culling, helicopter flying or shooting operations, and I would doubt many on this forum would be as I understand it to be a very select group, trained and skilled, so probably very few people who can speak with authority about it or who have even witnessed it first hand. I base my comments on what I have read and researched and after speaking to a number of parks and RLPB staff about it over the years that I have encountered, I understand that they successfully carry out these operations for a range of other pest species right across KNP and many other areas of the state and country not just national parks. I put my faith in that advice and the appropriate research and investigations referred to above rather than the emotive hysteria generated in the media and on internet blog sites about it. If you want to site anecdotal evidence on shooting or aerial shooting I recently watched a show on SBS on Hunting Aetearoa, which had a segment on deer control in New Zealand using aerial shooting, they use it extensively and I can tell you it had footage of aerial shooting very successfully in terrain that was much more rugged and broken vegetation cover than most places you would encounter in KNP.As to how to improve re homing rates, maybe government should look at subsidising re homing groups with tax breaks of volunteer not for profit type arrangements, or place a increased tax on equine products and services across the country or state to assist? Maybe horse riding business around the park that say that the brumbies are a draw card for them should contribute? User pays approach. Not sure many would like that however. I understand we can't even get the very rich and lucrative horse racing industry to stump up to address their 'wastage' issues.In the end however I still believe that whilst trapping, removal and rehoming might go some way to assist with the situation, I am concerned that it only perpetuates a problem around unwanted horses and it is not a full answer as a whole as some would like us to believe.
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HVBA Vice President about 3 years ago
I find this idea of harvesting the wild horses really interesting. I had never thought of it like this before, and its a different way of looking at it. Like harvesting of fruit, maybe it needs to be targeted to produce the best results. There have been studies done that show that removing breeding mares has the most impact on breeding rates. This makes sense because if you remove one stallion, he will be easily replaced by another, but if you remove a mare, you also remove all the offspring that she was going to have across her life. Luckily, we find that the Kozi mares are fabulous to train. So if we could target our trapping efforts a little more, maybe we would make a bit more of a difference to the population growth and rehoming will be fine, better if the mares are not pregnant (because they need to wean their foals before sale usually) which is why some use of fertility control would be excellent, but fine even if they were. Targeting trapping is difficult, but it could done by mustering the harems into the traps and avoiding bachelor groups, this should take out an entire family, one stallion, his mares, and any offspring. Well established harems are likely to have a very stable breeding rate, so this will make much more difference than taking out a bachelor group when it is possible that none of those horses would breed at all. We also need to be careful not to get confused when talking about harvesting the horses that people don't start to think it is some sort of money spinner for the NSW parks or the rescue organisations. It is not. It is a humane way of keeping the numbers in check. The more horses that are re-homed the better, but you only need to look at last years financials to know that no one is making money from this. We don't have any interest in keeping the population above ideal just so we can continue to harvest from it each year. If there were no horses to rescue next year because the population was deemed at an acceptable level and the traps were left closed, we would be super happy. But unless that happens we will continue to take our share of the captured crop.Another thing to note is that the majority of Brumby rescue organisations geld all stallions and colts before adopting them out because we believe there are enough horses in the park, we don't need to encourage people to breed more. Obviously doing the same to the mares is not currently viable, but if it was we would also be interested in that. So our re-homing groups do not contribute to the wastage, but actually reduce it.
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Perplexed about 3 years ago
Interesting HVBA! The 'harvesting' term probably comes more from research I have read around population dynamics around hunting, but same principals here apply, as due to constraints (political, social, resource, logistical) eradication is iunlikely to be achieved. As you say I imagine it would be very difficult to achieve targeted trapping from my understanding of the process, it is pretty much a lottery as to what horses are interested in the lure. You acknowledge that no one is making any money out of this trapping removal, rehoming approach, and I agree, but there are horse lovers out there who say that there is money to be made from it. Naive I believe in their understanding around the horse glut in Australia and wastage. That is why I raised it. You raise the concept of an 'ideal' population. What is that in your view? And before you respond it is one that is not causing impact, should it not be at the lowest population level achievable to reduce the amount of horses required to be 'harvested' each year therefore reducing the amount of wastage and therefore the inhumaneness and suffering caused to horses through this process. That is my course understanding of population dynamics. The larger the population retained the larger the amount of individuals that have to be removed or 'harvested' each year to keep the population level at that specified level. There in lies the catch 22. That was what I think the ANU researchers were trying to get at with their article, but the message unfortunately got hijacked by 'canabilism' etc.As to the gelding of stallions ffrom the rehoming process, that should be applauded and manadatory in my view given the wastage situation. As for mares, can they not be treated with the contraceptive drugs that horse lovers are promoting as the answer to the wild horse population situation? If it is not viable for rehomers, how is it klikely to be viable in a free range wild situation?? This then stops them adding to the wastage pool as well.
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HVBA Vice President about 3 years ago
I think that the point about the ideal population needing to take into account the minimum required to be removed each year is really important. We really need to know what size population can exist without inbreeding pressures becoming a problem (maybe this isn't a problem in Kozi because horses are still being released into the park or migrating into it from other areas?) and also what the actual population increase per year is. I know that in other populations of wild horses outside of Australia the generally accepted growth rate is 10% (when you take into account breeding rates, infant mortality, and adult death rates) so this means that in the first year we would need to remove approx 600 horses (10%of the 6000 counted) to keep the population stable. If we took 700 in the first year (which I believe was close to a yearly total taken out a couple of years ago, can anyone confirm this?), we would start to reduce the population. In years to come, as the population decreases, we would be able to take less horses each year. The trick is to find a number that is considered an acceptable population size and work towards that. If the trapping could be targeted and a gender imbalance was created, this should reduce the numbers needed to be taken too.The problem with current fertility options for mares is that they wear off after a couple of years. This may not be a problem if we are using it within a fenced area to reduce the numbers inside that area quickly, but its not viable for re-homers because it means that the mare could eventually be bred with even if we did go to the trouble of blocking her fertility for a few years. There is some fascinating research being done at the moment to create more permanent options for mares, and when that becomes available, we will be keen to utilise it.
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Donna about 3 years ago
Agree wholeheartedly. Another important point to remember is that trapping is currently carried out over around 6 months of the year with both ends of the park combined, and to me this proves even more significantly the effectiveness of the program when removal of over 600 horses per year is occurring, which I do believe was the total for 2013 trapping, though I'm happy to be corrected by Admin.
Perplexed about 3 years ago
I think we may be getting somewhere HVBA although we are straying way off the discussion topic of rehoming, I tghink it is worthwhile discussion to be putting out there however. I am glad to see you acknowledge that there are reintroductions occuring as they have been for years, many pro brumby groups or horse lovers don't, and refuse to acknowledge this. This practice then erodes the argument around genetic uniqueness of the KNP horse population in my view. As an aside issue but somewhat related to rehoming, to me this is anotherr obvious risk to rehoming of horses being removed from KNP and dumped elsewhere in the landscape creating the same problems elsewhere.?? Further the cases of horse neglect of horses taken for all the good intentions, but dumped in a paddock and fogotten about. There is a very controversial case in my area, just google Penderlea Horses, to see that mess. I am not saying they are brumbies, I don't know the full history but it is an example of where good intentions can probably go wrong with animal welfare, and should be a consideration in this rehoming discussion.Whilst I agree with your approach, I do not agree with your figures. From what I have read, population growth can be as high as 20% (Dawson 2006). If you believe NPWS latest population estimates from their aerial counts they are citing annual population increases of between 6% -17% in different areas. Regardless of what you believe ior disbelief as the accepted annual population growth rate, would you not aim for much higher, say 3, 4, 5 times the population growth rate to dramatically reduce the population, therefore reducing the need for individual horses to be harvested, essentially reducing the length of time to implement a population reduction and the amount of impact on fewer generations of horses?In regard to inbreeding and genetic viability, I think I have read somewhere, (sorry no reference) about a population size of 200 horses able to remain genetically healthy. As I have expressed before if we were talking a horse population of 200 horses in KNP rathyer trhan 6000 then we probably would not be having this discussion. I would be happy but I gather many others including yourself would not. Even if we said a number of distinct geographic populations say x 3 of a maximum of 200-300 horses in different areas of the park you are still talkiing 900-1000 horses across the park. Is that acceptable? To me it is a whole lot better than the 6000 that are there now and should be something that parks should be striving for to meet the conservation goals that are their legeslative responsibility. Again this approach of smallest population possible minimisses the ongoing need to keep harvesting large numbers, therefore reduces the number of horses subjected to any inhumane treatment regardless of control or management option and where you persionally rank or perceive rank them on the humaneness scale.I find you comments about the challenges of contraception interesting as to me these atre the very reason why it can not be seen as a viable control method in isolation for the KNP wild population in my view. The interesting thing I find about permanent sterilisation via contraception is if it did become available whther there would be an outcry against its use, as then this would be seen as a move towards eradication.I hope you and others see that this highlights the philisophical differences between your and my view points and our objectives on this issue. I want the smallest population possible of introduced species within our conservation reserves, because my main concern is for our native species and ecosystems. I won't assume to know what your objectives are? I do not agree with your other reply about lake of science or research as to impacts, refer my other posts referring to CABI.Org. To me there is plenty of evidence and research there. Even you talk of damage from individual horses, but then are not willing to acknowledge that that damage when it accumulates leads to definite impact, wheter they be species or ecosystem or function specific, is a moot point.Anyway it has been useful discussion I hope, I hope that there will be better discussion threads to be able to focus on these issues as part of this process, and I will leave it at that for now otherwise I will be late for work.
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HVBA Vice President about 3 years ago
I absolutely agree that the release of horses is a problem, its not so much the genetic uniqueness that bothers me more that the brumbies get a bad enough rap as it is for having an ever increasing population without people ignorantly adding to that by dumping their unwanted horses in there (although I maintain that the recent count showed no significant difference between it and the last count, see post in other thread for more details). I know that Dawson states 20% growth, but a more recent paper (Gregg, LeBlanc and Johnston 2014) done for the BLM in the US, states that while 20% has been previously accepted, foal survival to one year is only 50% and population growth when this is included is only 10%. I understand that foal survival in Australia has not been researched, but I know that Dawson gets the 20% from US based research too, so neither will be completely accurate for Australia. Based on the recent numbers, 4237 in 2009 growing to 6000 in 2014, we find that the population increase has actually only been 7.2% per annam. This means that next year the population should increase by 432 horses. So to stabilise we would only need to take that amount out. So if they can try to achieve 600 per year again this should have quite an effect.I actually think the idea of several distinct populations of 200ish each would be fine if its not causing inbreeding. If the growth rate remained at 7.2 that would mean that we would only need to remove 14 horses from each group per year, all of which would be easily rehomed. That seems too easy doesn't it....Of course the trick with all this is how to get down from 6000 to lets say 1500, which is close to what it was in 2003 after the fires. We know that the population had a boom after the fires, as often happens with populations after they crash like that (due to density dependence I assume), so the idea of doing a big aerial cull is not only inhumane, but based on the evidence from the last time the population was decimated in one go like that, it would actually be ineffective.Which is why I come back to my mixed method approach. Some passive trapping, some active trapping, some fertility control and some fencing. I think at this stage fertility control could be really useful if you are trying to stop the population boom that can occur when you free up resources by removing horses from an area. If there was more monitoring of individual groups, then those groups could be "harvested" but let the stallion and say two of his mares back out, all infertile and let him do some of the work keeping his territory free of other horses while they reduce the numbers in another area. I've heard them talking about new groups feeding down into long plain after they trap because it is the best territory which can be useful because you don't need to move the traps. It does make it difficult to know if you are having any influence though because you are not seeing a change in numbers around the area that was trapped, the numbers will just be changing somewhere else. Perhaps this is why the low number came as such a shock.As for cases of neglect in re-homed brumbies, it does happen when inexperinced people take on brumbies without knowing what they are getting themselves in for. It is very difficult to explain, you really need to work with them, but these are not just "unhandled horses" they are wild animals and that makes them very different. They live in proper family groups and are extremely intuitive to body language because this is how they communicate with each other. This means that if you turn your hips slightly the wrong way, it can be considered a threat and while I have never met an actively aggressive brumby, a herd stallion can give a pretty intimidating warning when threatened and this can put people off if they don't understand what they are doing. So getting back to the topic, another important thing that needs to be done in order to improve the re-homing rate, is training of those that are interested in taking on wild brumbies. The HVBA is only too happy to be involved in giving this kind of training. The HVBA has learnt so much from the VBA over the years, and we have a great relationship, often calling to discuss what has or hasn't work with each other. When working with Brumbies they are all individual and what works for one doesn't always work for another, but someone in another organisation might have done something differently that could work with that particular horse, so continuing to improve these relationships between re-homing groups will help to improve everyones skills and hence ability to take on more horses.
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Perplexed about 3 years ago
Again off the subject of improving rehoming but I need to respond to your comments about population increase rates and your interpretation of them.I am not sure what numbers you are basing your calculations on but I think you have overlooked the fact that Parks state that they have removed 2000 horses as well from the equation, between the the 2009 survey and the 2014 survey. "For comparison, the 2009 survey estimated about 4,200 horses in Kosciuszko National Park. In the five years between the current and 2009 surveys, the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) removed more than 2,000 horses, yet the population estimate has still increased during this time."If you believe the figures that they provided as a preliminary summary of the survey results (above) this means the overall population increased by about 3800 horses, or virtually doubled in 5 years, so certainly more than the 7.2% per annum or 432 horses that your presenting that need to be removed each year just to keep the population static.??And remember we are talking the median result here for the population estimate. So i do not know what you are basing your statement of shock of the 'low' number on. For me it is worrying that the population is still obviously healthy and increasing in size. The trend is still in the wrong direction in my view. With regard to your comments about a rapid large percentage reduction of the population being innefective, such as the populations bounce back after the 2003 fires, I would agree with you if the management was only limited to one control method as it has been for the last 14 years because of community and political pressures and agendas. If for me common sense prevailed and allowed for a full range of control methods were permitted it may be feasible to keep the population in check after a rapid large scale population reduction, using methods such as contraception, selective culling to favour gender, active and passing trapping, ground shooting and aerial shooting where required. This then again results in the smallest number of horses required to be culled or harvested on an annual basis to keep that population small. Thas to me is where the humaneness lies. As for your your training of people receiving horses, I have no problem, the issue really is who is going to pay for it?
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HVBA Vice President about 3 years ago
Ok so I think you may have misunderstood the entire point of what I am saying. I have not discounted the 2000 horses that have been removed. They are the reason I am here, because most of them have been slaughtered, and its actually not 2000, its more than that because from what I've seen, a large majority of horses that are removed are pregnant mares, so we are probably looking at in excess of 1000 unborn foals that have also been slaughtered. This is unspeakably awful and my entire reason for being involved in this process. I do not want their deaths to be ignored. I do not want people to think that even though over the past 5 years 2000 horses and potentially more than 1000 unborn foals were removed from the park, this makes no difference. Dawson did her 2009 count before the release of the last management plan. All of her predictions of increasing population are based on the premise of NO MANAGEMENT. But in 2009 a management plan was introduced and since then 2000+ horses have been removed from the park, and statistically speaking, the population has NOT increased since the implementation of that management plan. I will scream it again GOLD STAR NATIONAL PARKS!!!!!!I know that you, and others, will question how I could possibly think that 4200 horses being counted in 2009 and 6000 being counted in 2014 could possibly describe a situation of population stability. I wish I could show you the excel speadsheet that I have which contains all of my working and graphs, but we will have to settle for this, hopefully detailed explanation which will possibly allow you to redo my numbers and discover this for yourself.For some reason, even though we are trying to work out if a population has changed over time, no one who has done these reports has looked to see if there is a significant difference between the means of the populations (2009 and 2014 or any of the previous counts). I have attempted to calculate this myself, but the reports also do not contain all of the data required to complete this test. I am therefor left with only being able to assess if the error from each population overlaps. This is not the best way to determine significance, because in some circumstances it tells you nothing, while in others it tells you everything. I believe that the error we have been given is the Standard Error, and that therefor, the following rule applies. "When SE bars overlap, you can be sure the difference between the two means is not statistically significant (P>0.05). If you graph the results of the counts, you can see immediately that the error bars do overlap. As I cannot add a graph to this post, I will try to show it with numbers only. In 2009, the population (in KNP) was determined to be 4237 + or - 1076, meaning that they were fairly confident that the populaion in the KNP during that time was between 3161 and 5313 horses.In 2014, they counted 6000 + or - 2000, meaning they were fairly confident that the population was between 4000 and 8000 horses.As you can see, the lower end of the 2014 estimate, 4000, is between 3161 and 5313 (the 2009 estimate) meaning that the error overlaps. This means, in a scientific (statistical) sense, you cannot say that there is any difference between these two populations. In other words, all the work that the NSW park rangers and their contractors have been doing, has stablised the population over the past 5 years. Dawsons predictions did not come true, because the population was managed appropriately. I hope this makes sense, and I urge everyone to graph it because it really helps, graph the results of the past 4 counts, thats even better.Now on to how I got the 7.2% increase. If you want to look at just straight numbers, ignoring the error, and the above evidence that what NSW Parks have been doing has been working, then you can calculate what percentage a population would need to grow by in order to change from 4237 to 6000 in 5 years (its actually like doing compound interest in economics). To do this, go to excel, type in columnA (called year) in 5 separate rows, 2009,2010,2011,2012, 2013,2014. Then in columnB (called population mean) in the 2009 row type in 4237. Then go to column c and type in 1.10, this is the percentage I thought that the population would have grown by. Now go back to columnB and in the 2010 row, type =(cell that contains the 2009 population number eg B3) multiplied by (the cell that contains the 1.10 and make sure you put in the $ around it, eg $C$2). This will give you what the population would have been in 2010 if it had grown by 10%. Now if you drag that down so you have the predictions for all the years you will find that the 2014 prediction is higher than the 6000 that was counted. So to find out what the actual % increase was, you can do a "what if" analysis. You can ask, what is the cell that contains the 1.10 if the 2014 count was actually 6000. when you do this, the analysis spits out 1.072, also known as 7.2%. when you then times 6000 by 7.2% you find that the increase is predicted to be 432 horses for the following year. I hope this makes sense, but I understand what you are saying about taking out 2000 horses so if we instead ask what would happen if the population was 8000 (so it includes those 2000 horses that were removed) we find that the population increase was 11%, so if we multiply 6000 (2014 population) by 11% we find that the number of horses required for removal would instead be 660.I hope this helps clear up where I am coming from. But we agree on one thing, mixed management is the way to go! I just want that mixed management to be humane, and as I don't believe aerial culling is, its not part my solution, but we can agree to disagree on that, I really think we are finally getting somewhere, thank goodness!!!
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Donna about 3 years ago
Great explanation, which also happens to point out another omitted fact of the whole process, and that is the actual population increase given the unborn foals removed via their pregnant dams - as you say, the number is likely to be much higher when taking this into consideration and personally I think it's something that needs to be included in the new plan in order to give a clearer picture of the success/failure overall.
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Catherine Russell about 3 years ago
Thanks Donna and all on this thread, it has been a very good respectful discussion raising some interesting points.
Perplexed about 3 years ago
So what your saying is the population rate of increase is actually higher than what the survey estimates are showing I thought many horse lovers were saying this was not possible?
Perplexed about 3 years ago
HVBA, yes we have agreement that mixed management actions are the best response, and to me that is why the last two plans have been doomed to failure because their hands have been tied because of community and political pressures. I can see what you have done with your statistical analysis of the population results however for me I am not sure I agree with your approach as it does not take into account that there has been obviously significant increase up to 17%pa in some areas and still steady increase 6% pa in other areas if you believe the latest parks summary of results. No matter how you look at it the population has still been increasing despite significant removals. For me I don't need the population survey proof, it's in the seeing. After wandering around the park for the last 30 years off and on, I have seen the increase in horses, their distribution and their impacts. Others are entitled to their opinions but anyone as far as I am concerned who says otherwise is blinded by their love for horses or has other agendas. Regardless of the population size more need to be removed to get the population declining rather than stable or continuing to increase. This then flows onto re homing the lack demand meeting that number and therefore hard decisions to be made. Again the larger the population allowed to remain the larger the annual harvest required, and to me that is inhumane to those future generations of horses that need to be harvested.
HVBA Vice President about 3 years ago
Just had another idea. If we could get a little more publicity around just how wonderful the brumbies are and what fabulous riding horses they make,then we might get more horses rehomed. The rehoming groups do the best they can, but advertising costs money and as we rely on donations we can only spend a very small amount on this. Another issue for us is that quite often the prejudices that exist due to the awful inaccuracies people are spreading around inbreeding and bad temperament means that a lot of companies, media outlets, event coordinators, show societies and individuals will not entertain the idea of promoting the Brumby. As those of us involved in saving brumbies get out there and promote our brumbies, taking them to events and shows, this perception of wild, dangerous and inbred is slowly beginning to change. Time and time again we get told by judges that have been in the business for 20+ years how this is their first time judging a brumby class and they cannot believe how well mannered and beautifully put together these horses are, one older man told us that "in his 40 years of judging he had never met more well behaved horses" and other woman said "this is the best class I have judged all day". People are constantly telling us how they cannot believe how gentle the Brumbies are with children, and I cannot count the number of times we are asked "how much do you want for him?". If we could get a little more help promoting them, if Parks could advertise on their website how you can own a Brumby and a list of all Brumby groups, this would be great. If we could get some funding for a professional advertising campaign, I know all the rescue organisations would work together to produce something we could all use. These are fantastic horses, but so many people will say, "I didn't even know you could buy a brumby" or "yeah but you can't RIDE a brumby so whats the point in owning one" and this needs to change if we are going to increase the rehoming rate.
Donna about 3 years ago
First and foremost I honestly believe the status of the horses as 'feral' needs to be immediately changed to reflect their cultural heritage - something I believe is intrinsic to the increased success of the re homing programs. I'm aware of the definite prejudice towards these wonderful horses, for no other reason than their title, and have no doubt it reflects in the rate of horses being homed. I also suggest increased support to reputable re homing groups in the form of financial aid, help with publicising the horses availability and credibility as fantastic children's horses or a 'first timers' best friend, increased liaison with the local community regarding their involvement and/or programs aimed at securing homes locally, employment of experienced handler/s and the creation of a facility with the dual role of enabling individuals to access horses more easily whilst ensuring the horses are basically handled before sale.Of course, as I'm sure many will notice, there would be a great deal of fine tuning involved in any of the ideas I've mentioned, however I do believe they offer good long term viability and all are possible. Finances will always be a factor, yet it must be decided whether any future management will offer good value for money or simply more bang for your buck. There is no denying these horses hold a monetary value and are proving to be increasingly popular thanks to the hard work of many volunteers at a handful of advocacy or re homing groups - imagine what could be achieved together!
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The longer we wait... about 3 years ago
feraladjective(especially of an animal) in a wild state, especially after escape from captivity or domestication."a feral cat"synonyms:wild, untamed, undomesticated, untrained, unused to humans
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Donna about 3 years ago
I understand the dictionary definition of feral, I just disagree it should be applied to our brumbies. Yes yes I know, they're considered a feral animal because they fit the definition - that doesn't mean they can't be redefined though, in my opinion anyway.
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The longer we wait... about 3 years ago
Re-defining I don't think is possible, but re-naming (ie to brumby) is already done. In the context of land management I think they're accurately called feral horses and in the context of animal management I have no issue with them being called brumbies. I like it, in fact. To me it's not about bloodlines much though, they're the feral horses in the Snowies so they're brumbies. No rehomer says 'come get a feral horse' we'd both agree, so I'm not sure it matters. Does it? It scares me to think of re-defining terms that have specific meaning.Bit too world is flat and man will never fly...This is not a sacrastic diatribe Donna. But before you say it, I know I'm a little obnoxious!
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Donna about 3 years ago
I have to admit, you actually made me giggle ;) All jokes aside tho, I do believe it matters. I don't honestly hold out much hope it will ever happen, but I believe it should. At the very least they should be identified for the link they have to our past with a name that recognises it, such as Heritage Australian Brumby or just plain Heritage horses. As to redefining terms that have specific meaning, we already do. Humans fit quite snugly into the same feral definition the brumbies do, but we don't go around calling ourselves or others feral do we? Ok, well maybe there is the exception on that one, but you get the gist.
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The longer we wait... about 3 years ago
Well giggling has to be a road to somewhere good! My kids are feral sometimes. But not literally speaking. So I guess there is a colloquial meaning and a literal meaning. It's the literal meaning I am all for with brumbies when they're discussed in a more literal context, not a sentimental context.It's OK if we step on each other's sensibilities as long as we do it constructively. I think. OK I hope. Anyway, I'm glad you giggled. Hope you were drinking something at the time!
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Donna about 3 years ago
Is it odd I giggled without a drink to encourage it? Haha, I hope not because my glass was definitely empty! I don't think the definition I was referring to classifies as the 'sentimental one', but again you're entitled to your opinion. I tend to feel it's more a culturally heritage based definition myself.
peter_mcc about 3 years ago
How about "Feral heritage horses"??. You're keen for the heritage aspect to be recognised, others are keen for their non-native/feral status to not be forgotten.
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Donna about 3 years ago
I'm sure you're aware that my initial suggestion was aimed at removing the 'feral' status from these horses - hardly something that will be achieved with the moniker you've offered.
HVBA Vice President about 3 years ago
The Longer We Wait, I think it absolutely matters because of the way people perceive a "feral" animal in this country. There are people out there who will happily go bunny bashing because its only a feral rabbit, but if I told that same person that someone had climbed into my yard and beaten my pet rabbit to death with a large stick, they would most likely tell me that that individual has some serious issues. A similar thing happens with the horses, there are some people who ride their own very much loved horses out into the bush, chase down a little Brumby and cut the ears off "the ferals" for souvenirs. People immediately think that an animal that is "feral" is less important than one that is not. That it is less good, that it is less trustworthy, that it is just less. I spend so much of my time telling people that "No, they aren't crazy", "No, it won't bite or kick you", "No, its not inbred", "yes, they make excellent kids ponies", "yes, you can train them" and "yes, you can ride them". If people would just see a Brumby as another special breed of Australian horse, like the ASH, then my job as a re-homer would be sooooooo much easier!
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Donna about 3 years ago
I wish I could agree with this a thousand times over!!!
The longer we wait... about 3 years ago
I don't really follow you but I feel for you. I think the people you're referring to don't deserve brumbies. They really aren't a breed and more than a domestic short haired cat is a breed. I'm sorry but that's reality. I'm not trying to bash you, I really admire you.
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Donna about 3 years ago
I have to say, I honestly believe you're being intentionally facetious in saying you don't follow. It's a clear recount of how many deem any 'feral' animal in this country, but particularly our brumbies. I don't believe anyone who genuinely cares for the 'breed' or 'type', or whichever term you prefer, could actually not get what the HVBA VP is saying.
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The longer we wait... about 3 years ago
I'll read it three times later and see what I can glean. Promise.
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Donna about 3 years ago
And to do so would be doing no one any favours but yourself ;)
HVBA Vice President about 3 years ago
Actually the Brumby is a registered breed in Australia. There is a breed register, you can go in specified show classes if you are registered, and there are specific rules for what constitutes a brumby. So if a Brumby is not a breed, then a quarter horse is not a breed.Another thing on this topic of how the Brumbies are classified that I have realised only recently, is that a lot of people believe that the Brumby is "protected" in Australia. I have had to set two different groups of people straight on this in just the last week. When talking about this consultation process, they said "oh but it doesn't really matter, they aren't allowed to eradicate all the brumby's because they are protected due to heritage reasons, right?" to which I responded, "I wish!". I then had to explain that no they were not protected but classified as a pest and that if it were possible to find a way to do it, then yes they could all be completely eradicated. These people were shocked and appalled. Imagine the different direction that this consultation would have gone if they were classified as "protected for heritage reasons" rather than "feral pests". We would have spent the whole time talking about better ways to manage the population rather than spending so much time going around in circles about complete eradication and aerial culling and the supposed extinction of native species by assumed impacts. Instead we would have spoken about how much damage is inflicted by each additional horse, what is an acceptable level of damage, when does that damage become indistinguishable between what the horses are doing and what, say pigs, are doing, and how many horses can live in the park, so that they can still be protected for heritage reasons, but not cause any harm to the environment. Just imagine what we could have achieved.
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Themba about 3 years ago
I agree with you HVBA Vice President, this whole forum would have been much more useful if it was established that the horses will remain in the park and what was needed was more ideas on how to manage the horses in a humane way (for all those involved) while minimising any damage to the park.
Themba about 3 years ago
I believe what HVBA Vice President was saying is that labeling any animal "feral" makes people think they are inbred, dangerous and not worth any humane treatment and in some way worthless in comparison to other non-feral animals. Something I would agree with. People seem to use the label of "feral" as an excuse to go out and kill the "ferals" in any way they like and in any method that would have them charged for animal cruelty otherwise. Labeling an animal "feral" disassociates people from what happens to the animal.The work that re-homing organisations and individuals do is to be applauded and valued. They do this for no monetary reward but because it means a great deal to them, in this day and age I am grateful that people like this still exist.
Themba about 3 years ago
I can see that my plea to keep to the subject and not degrade this discuss has had no effect at all on some people. Can I please ask again, that we keep to the subject and discontinue any "rudeness". You may disagree with the suggestions being made but that doesn't give anyone the reason to be downright rude about it!
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Themba about 3 years ago
To clarify, this comment was in relation to the "feral" comment. Inflaming the discussion in this way is not helpful. If you have suggestions on how to improve the re-homing rate of the horses I would love to hear them. As a person who says they have rescued a brumby in the past you must have some interest and thought on how the re-homing rate could be improved.
Themba about 3 years ago
I'm sorry but was this meant to be as rude as it sounds? Was it really necessary for this??
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Donna about 3 years ago
The way this forum is designed is confusing to me Themba, I'm not certain if you were asking me this question or another contributor?
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Catherine Russell about 3 years ago
Themba and Donna - can I suggest that if you want to direct a question or statement use the participants name in your response. Thank you again for your contributions.
Themba about 3 years ago
Sorry Donna, the formatting of the forum is quite confusing at times. My comment was meant for "The Longer We Wait..", in reference to their feral definition which, to my mind, was simply being rude and not contributing to the conversation in any positive way at all.
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The longer we wait... about 3 years ago
Sorry I didn't know who you meant either. No it wasn't intended to be rude. It was intended to ensure factuality remained really central to things.
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Themba about 3 years ago
I'm glad that it wasn't intended to be rude. I don't really believe that factuality of the word "feral" has any place in the discussion for this forum though, suggestions of how to increase the re-homing rate would be welcome on the other hand. Parks have stated that passive trapping and re-homing will continue to be a part of the management plan so it is important that we focus on the subject and provide suggestions rather than going through the same arguments that have already been covered in other forums. I would hate for this opportunity for people to put forward their ideas on how to increase the re-homing rate to be lost in the debate of whether the horses should or should not be there in the first place!
Donna about 3 years ago
Cheers Themba, had hoped it wasn't me being rude lol.
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Themba about 3 years ago
I didn't think you were being rude at all Donna, sorry for the misunderstanding. I was glad that you put forward some valid suggestions for re-homing and was annoyed at what I deemed to be a rude comment in return.
InterestedObserver about 3 years ago
The only way to significantly increase the rehoming rate is to remove less horses. It's just supply and demand. You can't make people take horses (and I wouldn't want horses going to someone made to take them anyway). The carrot approach might work, but even a free horse has ongoing costs down the track.I think increasing the opportunity for those already or likely to be interested and able to adopt a horse could increase the rehoming rate. If removed horses where held somewhere (outside Kozzie, not tax payer funded) longer term, where prospective adopters could go and look at them, and choose the one they liked the look of and temperament of, that could only help. But (particularly as more horses need to be removed just to stabilise the population) you'd still be left with many that people couldn't take and/or didn;t want. At some point there'd be saturation of the 'holding farm' and the adopter market though. And what then happens to those horses not adopted?But removing less horses won't solve the current problem of over-abundant horses and their impacts in KNP.A 'sustainable population' of horses in kozzie would have to factor in the number of horses that can be sustainably rehomed, if this is the only method of control and removal from the park. And if parks only had to spend, say, $100 000 on trapping and removal, perhaps some of the balance of the $600 000-odd they apparently spend now could be used to contribute to a horse holding farm or rehoming groups costs.
Themba about 3 years ago
Another thought is, Mt Selwyn snowfields actively publicise the Brumbies who visit there during summer. Perhaps the other snowfields could be encouraged to also publicise the horses that visit their region and use it as an income during the warmer months and also be encouraged to sponsor horses that are removed from the park to give them a better chance of being re-homed. They could use the sponsorship as a marketing tool for the snowfields along with the horses that visit the area and thus draw in more income during the warmer months.
The longer we wait... about 3 years ago
I have re-homed three horses, two through Horse Rescue, and one a brumby foal I came across in distress on private property near Kosciuszko.I am all for rehoming horses, that's my point.But I think the rehoming rate is hard to improve upon due to the glut of horses on the market from breeders, traders, and I hope the racing industry but I don't know how they manage the non performers. I was talking to somebody with a horse stud recently and from their perspective (just on this aspect of the issue) the free or cheap brumbies out of Kosciuszko National Park are a threat to business. That's a bit interesting.So to increase adoption rates we have to increase demand for Kosciuszko brumbies, but are potential horse owners already saturated? Are there that many people looking for a horse?I hope so but I fear the maths won't match the wishes.And I hope I'm wrong.
Themba about 3 years ago
I would also like to say that I think this is an excellent question and I hope that those on both sides of the debate will contribute in a positive way to this discussion. If we can assist NPWS with viable and humane suggestions then it will help address both sides of the debate.I would implore both sides to look at this question in a positive way and not let this degrade into an all or nothing debate as it has on other forums.
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peter_mcc about 3 years ago
We don't normally agree on other topics but I've got no problem with more horses being rehomed rather than killed off-site. I imagine most people who want to see the horse numbers greatly reduced in the park would be the same as long as it doesn't end up costing too much.
Themba about 3 years ago
The re-homing rate is gradually increasing as people see the brumbies at horse shows and see the potential these horses have in the domestic arena. With the creation of Brumby classes at regional shows this has also increased the interest of the general horse population in owning their own "part of Australian history" and should, in time, create a larger demand for the horses in the domestic scene. Perhaps NPWS could advertise and promote the fact that they remove and pass the horses over to reputable associations/people for re-homing to increase the knowledge that the horses are available for purchase/adoption. I don't think that many people realise the horses are removed from the park and available for purchase and with more advertisement of this you could increase the number of horses being re-homed and the demand for them. I know there will be a Brumby exhibit at the Unbridled festival to be held in Canberra, it would be interesting to see if this creates more interest and demand for the horses.The other option would be to provide financial assistance to the organisations/individuals who take the horses for re-homing and receiving a portion of all purchase prices. My understanding is that the people currently receiving the horses are all funded via public donation or out of their own pocket which restricts the amount of horses they can take at a time. If they had government funding it could be possible for them to receive more horses and be less selective in the horses they currently take. This could actually end up being more financially viable for Parks if it results in more horses being accepted by these organisations/people and therefore reducing the amount of horses in the park and create a feedback of money to Parks when the horses are purchased.
peter_mcc about 3 years ago
I have no idea on what could be done but I think if NPWS is putting all the effort into capturing horses it would be preferable to rehome them instead of sending them off to be killed.But... whatever happens I think it needs to be cost effective. I certainly don't want to see something happen like in the USA where I understand the Government is paying to keep tens of thousands of wild horses on farms because nobody wants them and they aren't allowed to kill them.