What does humane treatment mean to you?

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

Animal welfare and humane treatment is a key consideration in any method of control for introduced animals like wild horses. The RSPCA are involved in the control program to ensure control and removal processes complies with animal welfare Codes of Practice. (See Page 29 section 9.3 Monitoring of humaneness in the Wild Horse Management Plan).

Here the RSPCA outlines how humane treatment applies to the practices within the Wild Horse Management Plan. 

THIS FORUM OPENED ON 13 OCTOBER AND CLOSED ON 27 OCTOBER 



  • peter_mcc about 4 years ago
    I find it interesting that we seem to have different standards of humaneness for different animals. On example is that battery hens are ok but people don't accept "puppy farms". I'm not saying either is ok but society accepts one but not the other.When it comes to feral animals we have the same issue. As someone elsewhere commented about the Guy Fawkes NP horse cull in 2000 - a few weeks later NPWS killed thousands of feral pigs and nobody cared. From the reading I did tonight it seems that 1080 bait doesn't produce a quick painless death for the animal involved but it's used without much opposition to kill foxes. Myxomatosis and Calicivirus used on rabbits take days to weeks to kill - again, no opposition.Then we come to horses where the opinions diverge widely. To people who don't "love horses" they are another feral animal and the standards of humane treatment applied to other feral animals are suitable for horses too. That means aerial culling is acceptable (if done properly).It seems to the people that "love horses" that this is not acceptable - the history of horses and their relationship with humans over the years mean they must be afforded special dignity/treatment.Two questions for the that I'd be interested to hear comments on:1) Is aerial culling of foxes/deer/pigs acceptable?2) Is it acceptable for a horse? why/why notI'm sure some people think I'm just stirring the pot to get a reaction - I'm not. I'm genuinely interested to know the answers.
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    • Donna about 4 years ago
      It is but human nature that we decide who or what 'deserves' our humane treatment, and thus we all have differing standards of humaneness; just as we choose how to treat one another, we do the same to the animals we 'own', the ones we farm or hunt, or the ones we call pests. It is a sad reflection on the human race that we shallowly value everything, living or not, in terms of its relation or benefit to us personally. However, that must not mean the true definition of humane should differ from one person to the next, nor from one animal to another, especially in terms of management plans for National Parks; there can be only one standard and it must be the right one. The label of 'feral' should not instantly preclude the use of humane treatment, in any case. As is the case with puppy farms, battery hens, bobby calves and nanny foals, foxes, rabbits and even pigs have their advocates, people who believe they deserve more humane treatment and methods of control. 1080 bait is highly contested in many areas and I personally find the killing of rabbits using viruses that take days to kill completely abhorrent. Controlling feral pigs is incredibly difficult but highly essential due to their impact on the farming sector and our environment - an impact that is not disputed, unlike that of the brumbies. The same can be said for foxes, deer and pigs, but again, not conclusively of the horses. I tend to believe the fact many people don't protest the use of inhumane treatment on animals of any kind is because they're simply not aware it's happening, not because they don't care. The use of aerial culling as a means of control is one I believe should be used only under a specific set of circumstances, and no other; that is to say, the situation must be considered 'ideal' before it's undertaken. To do so even slightly outside the SOP guidelines is to invite outrage and criticism when animals are made to suffer needlessly, because that is the inevitable reality of this method, as was amply demonstrated in the GF cull, however poorly the real mess was covered up. The issues of which method is used versus whether culling is even needed are entirely separate, and are aside from the history and relationship we have with horses. I do not see aerial culling as unacceptable simply because I see these horses as part of our heritage and our country, I disagree with its humaneness and efficacy as a control method for any animal. The fear associated with the process of being chased down by a helicopter, watching your herd mates dropping like flies next to you while you run for your life can in NO WAY be compared to that experienced by trapping/transporting or training.
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      • peter_mcc about 4 years ago
        Thanks for the thoughful reply.Out of interest, if you are against aerial culling, viruses & 1080 bait how would you see feral pig, fox, wild dog, rabbit and deer numbers being controlled? My thinking (at least at the moment) is that there is no effective way to control those animals without those methods - any other method would be a lot less effective (ie number of pests removed per worker day) and cost a lot more. Given limited budgets I think the end result would be that less pests would be removed and the environment would suffer greatly. And so the pragmatist in me says those methods are ok because they achieve the "greater good" of protecting the general environment at the expense of the welfare of the animals being killed. So there is a tradeoff of "humaneness" vs "cost" in my mind (to bring it back to the topic!). There are limits to what is acceptable - eg steel jaw dog traps are outlawed - so I'm not saying we just go for the cheapest removal method. But if the choice is doing little the "most humane" way or doing a lot more a "fairly humane" way then I'd go for a lot more.
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        • Donna almost 4 years ago
          In reply to your question, I believe the use of some type of trapping system would be preferable to aerial culling for controlling the animals you mention. Failing that, ground shooting I assume would be more accurate than from the air, I don't imagine it's any easier to hit a feral dog or pig than it is a horse in that situation. As to the 'tradeoff' you mention of humaneness vs cost, I sincerely hope that is not the reality of the situation. Cost of course is going to be a deciding factor in any control methods, but in saying that, consideration of long term effectiveness vs short term solutions should carry equal weight. The truth of aerial culling is that it is most definitely not a way to do "a lot more a fairly humane way"; on the surface it may appear that is the case, but (typically) it has the opposite result on the remaining population, causing breeding to increase as a survival response. Where then, does that leave us? Back in the chopper in another 5 years, to do it all again? That's not a solution, that's insanity.
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          • peter_mcc almost 4 years ago
            I've thought about it more and I'm ok with how they are dealing with the other feral animals. I can't see trapping working for rabbits. Ground shooting isn't fantastic either - very time consuming to clear out only small areas. And if you don't kill the animal straight away what then - it's hard to chase after a wounded animal on foot. Plus I'd be really suprised if you could get close enough to get a good shot anyway.Anything that reduces the numbers in the short term is likely to increase numbers in the long term. The only logical outcome of what I think you're saying is that we shouldn't reduce the number of horses in the park because it will cause them to breed faster. The bad news is they are breeding fast anyway and the trapping program can't keep up as it is. Where does that leave us? Perhaps in a chopper every year. Perhaps a major cull then continue the trapping. I would have thought that trapping fitted the bill for insanity - trying to control numbers using a method that has proven to be expensive, time consuming, at times inhumane and ineffective at even keeping up with natural population growth.
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            • Donna almost 4 years ago
              Am I confused or did you just state that you'd be really surprised if you could get close enough to successfully ground shoot the horses, yet you feel shooting from a moving helicopter from metres above ground is somehow more feasible?! Wow.Your logic is obviously quite different to mine because I don't see that conclusion as being the only one possible, rather I believe the knowledge of the impact we cause through removing large numbers can be used to achieve a better resolution, one that will work in the long term and not see more bloodshed or slaughter as a 'solution' in another year or even five. Perhaps it leaves us in a position of having to adopt a different way of thinking about the problem which in turn offers us new solutions - rather than the same pattern of behaviour that does little more than create the same obstacles.
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              • peter_mcc almost 4 years ago
                I did. The standard operating proceedure for ground shooting of horseshttp://www.feral.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/HOR001_ground_shooting.pdfdoesn't mention a maximum distance allowed but it does say the shooter must be able to consistently get 3 shots into a 10cm target from 100m. Given that's about the size of a horses head I'm guessing it is meant for distances of 100m or so. How easy do you think it would be to get within 100m of a group of horses and then shoot each one without the rest running away? And if you injure one how on earth do you follow it up to kill it? In KNP, off the roads, people are limited to slow walking pace - horses are way faster. At least in a helicopter you can move faster than the horses to either follow a mob or chase down an injured horse.All the literature I've seen says ground based shooting isn't suitable for anything other than open country and small numbers of horses.I'm still not sure what you think the "solution" is. It isn't shooting. Trapping isn't removing enough to keep up with population growth. What does that leave? What is your different way? The only thing left seems to be to let the numbers keep on increasing.
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                • Donna almost 4 years ago
                  Well I'll be. So it doesn't seem incredibly ridiculous that for ground shooting you need to be within 100m, and have the skill to hit a 10cm target consistently from that distance, yet from a chopper at greater distances it's more feasible?! Again, WOW.How easy do you think it would be to get within a few hundred metres of a mob in a chopper and then shoot each one without the rest running away? If you merely injure one, which is likely to be the case, how do you follow up to kill it when there is so much forest for it to disappear into? A chopper may indeed be faster than the horses, however it is not as swift at moving from one direction to another without a seconds notice, can't dart in and out of forested areas while maintaining view of the horse it's chasing down and has the added complication of the associated noise, making it more difficult to approach a mob of horses in the first instance. All the literature I've seen says aerial culling isn't suitable for anything other than open country offering easy sight and thus swifter death - so again I assert it's not suitable for KNP. A solution lies somewhere between trapping and increased support/participation of the local and wider community I feel; a situation whereby compromises are made to ensure the horses welfare is indeed a factor if not a priority, recognises their history and ties to the area and our country and is suitably respectful of the same, a solution that sees the park benefit and the people who use it - meaning ALL of us, not just some.
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                  • InterestedObserver almost 4 years ago
                    I've been in helicopters flying over horses numerous times, and you can get quite close to them. In fact, after running a short distance they often mob up and start milling around in the same place. Something to do with home ranges that they don't want to leave... But even when they're running it's very easy to get very close, so follow up of wounded animals would be very quick.Shooting that mob from the air would be far more effective and humane than shooting them from the ground - after one shot from the ground you wouldn't get another chance to follow it up to make sure it died quickly.How does darting work for fertility control? If they can't all be caught (obvious given current problem) surely you'd need to use a helicopter to get close enough to the horses to dart them? In my experience using tranquiliser guns (admittedly about 10 years ago) the equipment wasn't reliable enough to deliver an accurate shot from any further than about 30m. Is that how they do it overseas? Or are the only dealing with 200 horses in open areas so they can round them up and innoculate from close range?Aerial shooting works (and is apparently humane) for deer, pigs and goats in the same country - why would horses be any different? If the horses hide from the helicopter you can fly around to get a better angle etc. Pigs would be much better at hiding in the undergrowth than horses, deer run in a much more unpredictable style than horses and goats hide in all sorts of places that horses wouldn'tfit into.Wouldn't shooting a mob of horses in a yard be more traumatic to the horses watching their friends be shot? And that's after they're contained for several hours prior in the trap. Sure, that's more humane than trucking them somewhere else for who knows how many hours before being killed, but surely minutes of fear before death by helicopter shooting is more humane than both options.Also (in response to a post much further up the page), it's very easy to tell the difference between a person and a horse. Even deer and horses. Even different species of deer. I don't think there's a risk of shooting people when undertaking aerial shooting. Maybe keeping people out is required as part of the program, but if someone jumps their back fence into the park despite the park being closed for shooting, if the shooter had any confusion about what species they were he could get the pilot to fly closer to make sure they identified the target properly.
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                    • peter_mcc almost 4 years ago
                      I thought you could get fairly close to a horse in a helicopter - now that I think of it, the SOS News video about the Guy Fawkes 2000 cull shows them flying reasonably close to a mob of horses.
  • peter_mcc almost 4 years ago
    I know it's late in the peace and the topic is about to close - sorry.But I've just noticed that the "humaneness" assessment at http://www.feral.org.au/animal-welfare/humaneness-assessment/horse/ considers "trapping" to stop when the animals are in the trap - not when they are at their final destination. For confirmation of this see the top of the first page of http://www.feral.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/horse-trapping-worksheet.pdfBased on that I'm not sure that, according to the Feral website (sorry, I can't work out exactly who runs it other than it is largely government funded) that trapping (when carried out well) is any more humane than aerial culling (when carried out well). Obviously both can be done badly.Perhaps the question then becomes can NPWS prove that they can perform an aerial cull according to the guidelines? I'm guessing that if they were allowed to give it a go then they would be on their best behaviour - they couldn't afford any slip ups because there would be a large number of pro-horse people looking for any and every reason for it to be stopped. In other words, the standard that aerial culling would be put under to be humane would be impossible to meet in the current climate, where even one horse being killed uncleanly would be pounced upon as proof that aerial culling was not suitable. That seems to be the way that politics generally has gone lately - it is very hard to have a proper debate on a subject because it is so easy for a group to whip up outrage that stops many sensible and valid ideas in their tracks.I think that's a shame - it is putting the standard of humaneness for aerial culling miles above any other possible management technique or outcome for the horses. Horses died in the snow over the last winter because of a lack of feed - surely that is more "inhumane" than being killed in an aerial cull, even if the poor horse did wander around injured for a while.(which, before anyone pounces on it, is obviously something that shouldn't happen but might). Or how about a horse that hurts itself in a trap and is there for a day or so until the trap gets checked? Or gets injured loading? Or being transported?
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    • HVBA Vice President almost 4 years ago
      I agree that under perfect conditions, aerial culling seems like a humane option, the horse is shot and dies before it knows what happens, out in the open, the idea is that you can get the whole family of 5 in just 5 shots straight after you locate them, seems good. Unfortunately when you take it out of the lab and into the real world, that is not what happens. The horses have to be pursued while the marksman gets organised and ready to get a clear shot. As you can imagine this can take time when the horses is running before you have even spotted it, ever seen the brumbies run from the noise of your vehicle when they were on the next mountain ridge, the helicopter is much noisier than a car and can be heard from a long way off. So they start to run in fear before you have spotted them, by the time you notice them they are at top speed, somewhere around 70kms/hr and you are going faster than that to catch up. You have to account for wind speed and direction, and the usual probabilities that come from shooting at a real live animal, rather than a target, such as what happens if it trips, or it decides to dart off at an angle for some reason. Add to this a thick cover of trees, and we all know that is exactly where the horses go when they are scared, a few hidden foals snoozing out of sight, and you have a whole mix of real world problems that increase the inhumaneness of the method. As Themba stated, these matrices did not split trapping into passive and active. With passive trapping, which is the current method used, the horses walk into the trap of their own accord and the gate closes behind them. There is very little stress, and when being moved into the truck and to the holding yards, it is similar to loading cattle, when its done right, its very uneventful. Its very hard to explain to people that have not worked with Kozi brumbies just how uneventful dealing with them can be. They can be quite boring. You get all worked up worrying about how when you first open the gate from the round yard they might run flying out into the paddock and jump the fence never to be seen again, then you open the gate and they stand there looking at you like "so you opened the gate, do you want a medal or something" and then calmly walk out into the paddock and graze 2 meters from where you are standing. All the worry for nothing. If they are treated correctly, and they always are by the current NSW parks guys, they take to domestication like they were bred for it. Injuries in the yards etc are dealt with as soon as possible in the most humane way. The NSWparks guys do not let the horses suffer. As for the argument about letting them starve over winter being inhumane, I am a great believer in natural selection and survival of the fittest, if it is a fact of nature I'm not really against it, but I don't want animals to suffer and that's part of the reason why I want the population to be managed in the first place. But when you actually look at the real world application of these two options of passive trapping and re-homing versus aerial culling, they are two opposite ends of the humaneness spectrum.
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      • peter_mcc almost 4 years ago
        Looks like Admin forgot to close this topic...Thanks for another thoughtful reply. Do you know what sort of injury rate there is with the current KNP trapping? Or any other trapping program you're aware of? What happens to them if they are not rehomed - how far do they get trucked to a knackery? How are they treated there?I'm not sure that I'd put passive trapping and aerial culling on opposite ends of the humaneness spectrum. I'd put them on the same end with passive trapping being "more humane" but not a huge amount. I think it's important to realise that there are lots of methods that are way more inhumane than anything being discussed seriously here, and so that's why I don't think they are on opposite ends.
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        • HVBA Vice President almost 4 years ago
          I am unsure of the injury rate in the current program, we have been told from time to time of horses injuring themselves, and sometimes they have to be destroyed because of old injuries that they come in with, but the Parks guys do an excellent job of making sure the animals in this program are treated really well, they change the yards if they find an issue and they make the humane choice to put an animal down if required. The best thing about the current plan is that some horses do get a chance to live, if this program extended, of course there are things that could be improved, and increasing the percentage of horses that are rehomed is something we would love to be involved in. Its like the story of the man throwing the star fish back to sea, it might not seem like our rehoming efforts make that much difference when 2/3 still go to the knackery, but to the 1/3 that actually do get rehomed, it literally means they get to live not die.As for what happens when they are not rehomed, this is something that the Brumby Advocacy Group is keen to improve. At this time, they can be trucked as far as SA to a knackery that processes horse meat for human consumption. While we do not necessarily have an issue with that use of the meat, better the meat be used for some purpose than just left to rot in the park, it is the amount of time spent on the truck that is the real issue. If the horses could be destroyed on site, this would be preferable, or if there was a local abattoir that would be an improvement too. I assume that the abattoirs they are sent to are regulated by the same animal welfare regulations as other Australian Abattoirs, and hopefully the animals are treated well here. I do admit it is concerning what happens to them once they get there, but again, we could all be talking about how to improve knowledge of this, but it is nowhere in this discussion which has been so focused on one (controversial) management option that it has forgotten to even discuss the rest.I think this is a good place to go next. We have established the pros and cons of Aerial Culling, lets talk about the pros and cons of the other management options so we can compare them all properly.
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          • peter_mcc almost 4 years ago
            I think there will always be horses to rehome - which is good for those who think brumby's make great horses. The chances of NPWS being able to eliminate every horse from the park are zero - even if they wanted to I don't think it would be even close to possible. So I'm guessing the trapping/rehoming will always have a place.I wasn't aware they were trucking the horses to SA to be killed - that's a long trip, especially for an animal that isn't used to being constrained in any way.I'd love to see the discussion happen on what happens after trapping for the horses that aren't rehomed. There are lots of them.
  • Sharlone almost 4 years ago
    Humane treatment is the living of life in a relatively stress,pain & fear free. Aerial culling would have to be a terrible way to die. That loud scary noise of a helicopter, the blast of a gun, foals getting trampled, possibly more than 1 shot to end the life of 1 animal. It doesn't really sound humane does it?? After seeing the way the KNP brumbies are loaded into a trailer, & seeing the calm well-behaved brumbies we were lucky to pick up I have now doubt in my mind that this is the most humane method we could & should continue to use. If we mix this up with fertility control & fencing the areas that are sensitive we could have the perfect management plan.
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    • peter_mcc almost 4 years ago
      What about the 2/3 of the trapped horses that are taken to the knackery to be killed? There are more than enough horses to rehome - the current trapping program isn't keeping up with the population growth and only 1/3 of the horses trapped are rehomed. Fertility control is only suitable for small populations - not the thousands of horses in KNP.
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      • HVBA Vice President almost 4 years ago
        Fertility control, if combined with fencing, would be a fantastic management tool. If for example, we decided that there was an area, say one community of the endangered sphagnum moss that would really benefit from having absolutely no horses on it, then we could look at fencing that area off, using fertility drugs on the horses that were in there so the population does not increase, and just trap until they were all gone from that area. I'm not sure how feasible this is, but I think its worth thinking about. We don't need to try to tackle the entire population in one go, we can work on those regions that are most sensitive first, a target approach like this should produce the best results.
  • Themba almost 4 years ago
    Perhaps those in favour of aerial killing of the horses could detail why they believe it is humane and why they believe it is necessary. Perhaps they could detail how they believe it is more cost effective than passive trapping and re-homing, how they would propose to ensure the safety of native animals during the killing (given that a helicopter will also scare native animals into running) and how you would ensure the safety of any people in the park at the time (keeping in mind that not everyone enters the park via designated signed roads, listens to the radio or watches TV).Those opposing the aerial killing have provided extensive justification of why they don't believe it is a humane alternative, I think it is now time for those in favour of aerial killing to detail why they believe it is humane and why it should be done. Please also note, it is not just the "brumby lovers" opposing aerial killing in these forums but also farmers in the NP region, people who make a living from brumby tourism and shooters as well. There appears to be a misconception that it is only "brumby lovers" who are opposed to the practice.
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    • peter_mcc almost 4 years ago
      Ok, I'll have a go.The discussion needs to be based around the "proper" method of aerial culling, just as the humaneness of trapping needs to be based around it being done properly too. There are reports of the trapping program done before the Guy Fawkes cull resulting in lots of horse injuries and deaths - so trapping can be done badly too.There is a chart on this page - http://www.feral.org.au/animal-welfare/humaneness-assessment/horse/ - that compares some methods of horse control. From that you can see that aerial culling is slightly less "humane" than trapping. It has a shorter duration but slightly more suffering. If it is done properly the horse should die quickly and be checked to ensure it is dead (rather than leaving it wandering around wounded). Based on that I'd say it is "humane enough"'. Please note from that graph that trapping is in the yellow zone too - it is not perfect either.Why is it necessary - because it allows the horse numbers to be rapidly reduced so that their impact can be managed. Why is it more cost effective - from NPWS figures somewhere I believe it costs around $1000 to trap and remove a horse. Happy to accept any evidence to the contrary - please include a link to the appropriate document. The Guy Fawkes operation took 3 helicopters 3 days to kill 600 horses. That's, say, 3 x 3 x 8hrs = 72hrs of helicopter time. Let's assume a helicopter costs $1000/hr (generous - you can hire them for $800/hr or less). So that's $72000 - or enough to capture 72 horses. Add in some people, etc and you still are a heap cheaper than the $600k it would cost to capture/remove 600 horses.How to ensure the safety of native animals? I guess don't shoot them... the chances of them running and getting hurt in most areas would be pretty low. Access to the area would need to be managed but shouldn't be too hard - there aren't that many roads into the park.As for who is opposed - all the people mentioned are the ones who make a living from the horses. They are happy to see the status quo continue because their business relies on a feral animal existing in the park. I'm guessing you won't find the same degree of support amongst people who are not horse lovers.I don't think those opposed have provided extensive justification for why it isn't humane. There is the disputed Guy Fawkes NP event - if what opponents say happened then the cull was not carried out according to the rules. The outcome from that should be that any future culls should follow the rules, not that it should be banned.
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      • Bio-Brumby almost 4 years ago
        Hi peter_mcc, I also have been web searching Guy Fawkes 2000 controversial shoot. You have a point that if the cull had not been carried out according to the rules then future culls should follow the rules. However according to reports I saw 'the rules' such as the Australian Veterinarian Association (AVA) in 2000 stated their policy on helicopter horse culling applies; “specifically to open arid and semi-arid country, where helicopters can easily pursue any injured animals to ensure they can be put down without undue suffering”, and “the very rugged forest terrain in the GFRNP is not suitable for this because of the obvious difficulty in conducting the operation in the most humane manner possible.” the point I make is that aerial shooting in Guy Fawkes or Koscuizko NP can never meet the rules. Cheers, Bio-Brumby
      • Themba almost 4 years ago
        Correct me if I am wrong but you appear to be saying you believe aerial culling is humane because the government says it is? Surely this isn't the only reason? Would it change your thinking if I told you the VIC NP has ruled out shooting in their horse management plan?Interesting, the chart you have provided a link to, appears to me, to show that aerial culling is substantially less humane than trapping. I also notice it doesn't define "trapping" (ie. passive or otherwise) and is applied across the chart to all of the animals listed, small or large. What exactly does "humane enough" mean?As to cost. Your estimate of $1000/hr sounds reasonable until you realise that council contractors charge $88.00 per hectare for aerial spraying of weeds. The total size of the park is 69,000 hectares. So if they were to hire a helicopter to fly over say a quarter (172,50 hectares) that would cost around $151,800. Have you also taken into account the following:- Hiring of an expert marksman and the provision of specific bullet callibre as per RSPCA COP- Hire of spotters to locate the horses- Ground follow up to ensure the horses are dead and finish off any found not to be dead and any suckling foals- Removal of the carcasses from the park to ensure they do not feed wild dogs, pigs, foxes, etc and lead to overpopulation of those animals- Closing the park for the days it would take to conduct the aerial cull (this would be in spring/summer when most people visit the park)- Insurance coverage in case of injury to those participating in the cull and those on the ground recovery crew- Possible compensation payouts to land owners boardering the park whose livestock are spooked and injured due to the cullWhy do you believe the chances of native animals getting hurt during the cull would be "pretty low"?Why do you believe restricting access to the park "shouldn't be too hard"? If I lived on a property boardering the park I would just go over my fence or down one of the many tracks into the park rather than use the roads. Do you believe people only use the designated roads into the park? Do you think the possibility of visitors in the park being injured during the cull is an acceptable risk?Can you explain further why you farmers around the park and shooters "make a living from the horses" and their "business relies on a feral animals existing in the park"?. I'm afraid I don't quite understand what you mean by this.PS. I'm not trying to be rude, just trying to understand the thinking behind the push for aerial culling and just how far people have actually thought it all out apart from "the government says its humane" so therefore it must be.
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        • peter_mcc almost 4 years ago
          They're all fair questions and I'm quite happy to be probed - it makes me think. But it might be a day or so before I can reply. At least it should be... I've got lots of "real" work I need to do!
        • peter_mcc almost 4 years ago
          1) For the VIC NP decision to have any impact I would need to know the logic behind it. Many "good" things have been banned by governments because of "bad" publicity - the mere fact that it is banned could mean nothing more than a good PR campaign by horse lovers. Or it could be something more substantial2) I wouldn't say it was substantially - it is a little bit less humane. One square across on their graph. If you read the trapping assesment here http://www.feral.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/horse-trapping-worksheet.pdf then you'll see that they are only talking about getting the horse into the trap - not what happens afterwards. If you add that in then the "trapping" point will move - if they are sent to a knackery the "mode of death" would probably move across one and the "prior to death" would move up at least one - putting it in the same sort of area as aerial culling. Something that anti aerial-culling people seem to ignore...3) Given that it costs over $1000/horse to trap them I don't think it matters what else you add in - aerial culling is the cheapest & quickest way to reduce horse numbers in KNP. Based on your spraying maths and assuming the other costs were 3 times the helicopter cost it would be $600k to cover 1/4 of the park. If they couldn't kill 600 horses in 1/4 of the park then they are doing something wrong.4) Why do you believe the chances of native animals getting hurt would be anything other than "pretty low". The only real danger is tripping over something - they are pretty well evolved to avoid doing that. The shooter isn't likely to hit them by accident. What else could hurt them?5) We're not talking about someone firing randomly into the bush from the ground. They are firing from a helicopter with a clear view of the horse they are about to shoot. The chances of them shooting someone by accident are pretty low to non-existent. The helicopter pilot would be looking where they were going and should be able to see anyone they are coming up to. 6) sorry, I shouldn't have included them as I have no evidence either way. I should have only included those who make money from horse tourism. 7) no worries
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          • Themba almost 4 years ago
            1). I suggest anyone interested look into the VIC NP decision to understand why shooting wasn't considered in their horse management plan. To clarify, VIC government did not ban it, they simply did not feel it was necessary to make it part of the plan. But again, I would suggest people read it and see for themselves.2) I would still disagree with you on this, to me the chart shows it to be substantially less humane. That's the thing with those type of charts, they aren't very clear. Thanks for the clarification on "trapping", pity it doesn't take into account "trapping and re-homing".3) How do you still see aerial culling as the cheapest option as compared to trapping? $6000k to cover 1/4 of the park is a large amount of money and it would be highly unlikely that they would manage to kill 600 horses in 1/4 of the park. Tree cover would prove an issue in locating horses and even the aerial survey didn't find that many horses in one area of the park. Please also understand that the cost of aerial culling goes up the fewer horses are killed. Ie. if they only kill 10 horses in one day of being in the air it's not a good return on the expenditure. I still don't understand the reason behind the "quickest way" sorry, what is the hurry, they have been there for nearly 200 years and haven't managed to destroy the park beyond all recognition?4) The other danger to native animals is being run over by the actual horses, running into fences and onto roads and adults being separated from their young which in turn means the young either starve to death or are eaten by dingoes, wild dogs or pigs. If one of the reasons behind calling for the aerial cull is to stop the decline of native animals then I wouldn't have thought people would want this to happen.5) Have you seen how many trees there are in the park? Do you really think the horses will stay out from the cover of the trees so they can be shot? Have you considered that the horses may in fact be run into the path of people on the ground in the park or onto the road? The helicopter pilot will be looking at where they are going, they won't be looking for people on the ground, they know exactly how dangerous it is for them and will be looking at making sure they don't run into the trees or hills.6) No problem, I was mystified why you would think farmers and shooters would be making money out of the horses. 7) Cheers
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            • peter_mcc almost 4 years ago
              3) As I understand the horse distribution, there are large areas of the park where there are no horses. There are also areas that are heavily forested where aerial culling would not be appropriate. So if you picked the 1/4 of the park where most of the horses were it should be fairly easy to get at least 600 horses. The northern area (1500km2) has around 4000 horses from the 2014 draft count. I'm not exactly where that is but around Blue Waterhole there is lots of open country and it's roughly in the north...I think some of your maths is out. I didn't say $6000k (suspect your quoting of that is a typo). If they are charging $88/ha for weed spraying then that is $8800/km2 or $60M for the whole park, $15M for 1/4 of the park. Based on $2000/hr for the helicopter+spray stuff that is 30,000hrs of flying time. Given 10 helicopters flying 8 hr days that is about 360 days of spraying for the 10 helicopters. I'm guessing that spraying for weeds from a helicopter is very slow... either that or they spray with magic pixie dust that is very expensive! I think part of the issue is that 1km2 = 100ha (not 10ha) and you dropped off another factor of 10 later on.(from my opinion) there are plenty of horses in the park. If NPWS want to reduce their numbers (and it seems they do) then they will need to kill more horses than they currently do. The issue partly becomes so we shoot them from the air or do we catch them and truck them to a knackery where they get shot. The issue isn't about rehoming them - there are more than enough horses to get rehomed no matter what happens. In a sense the rehoming is a bit of a side issue - I can't see any sign that the rehoming organisations can magically deal with 3 times their current number of horses (and that is just to keep up with the current rate of trapping). If they increase trapping they are just delaying when the majority of horses get shot - and giving them a hard/unpleasant time along the way.
  • peter_mcc about 4 years ago
    I found the comment from the RSPCA in the video about the cumulative stress of removing the horses to be interesting. While looking for info on the Guy Fawkes NP cull it seems they had tried various methods (that are no longer used) to capture/remove the horses before the cull and that they were inhumane.I would imagine for a wild horse to be captured in a yard then moved onto a truck/horse float and taken somewhere strange away from their mob must be fairly stressful. The photo of people trying to load horses onto a trailer after capture on the NPWS Flikr photostream and they don't look very happy with it. They then need to be broken in which would be a bit of a shock. Is that more or less humane than a quick death from a gun? Dunno. It's obviously more humane than a slow death from a gun. What about if they get hurt during the capture process and need to be put down on the spot - is that better or worse?In an ideal world both capture and aerial culling would be perfect and cause no distress to the horses. In practice I imagine both can go wrong and cause great distress. Does that mean it becomes a numbers game - what is the chance of each way causing distress?
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    • Donna about 4 years ago
      Misinformation is such a funny thing. You're right when you say that prior to the GF cull they used various methods to capture the horses, though time would prove their claims of removal as being inhumane to be false. Guy Fawkes Heritage Horse Association currently receives all horses removed from the park under their trapping program, in place since the 2000 debacle. This of course leaves one to wonder why the cull was even deemed necessary at the time, given that numbers are being successfully controlled 14 years later using the same methods they claimed were inhumane....In reply to your comment regarding whether training would be more or less humane than a quick death from a gun, I think the many many happily 'adopted' brumbies removed and rehomed via trapping would tell you in no uncertain terms which they'd prefer. I wonder would you believe it then, if it came directly from the horse's mouth?
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      • peter_mcc about 4 years ago
        I'm basing my "inhumane removal" comments on this article: http://snowybrumby.com/guy-fawkes-brumby-slaughter/It's from Snowy Brumby lovers website so I'm guessing if anything it is more from the "brumby lovers" viewpoint than anything else. It has comments by Lyall Sempf which are very critical of the attempts to remove horses from Guy Fawkes NP *before* the cull. Reading the comments I'd have to agree - the injury rate seems really excessive and the techniques fairly brutal. I'm not questioning the humaneness of training vs death - I'm questioning the whole process from capture to training vs quick death. Or probably more accurately from capture to end use, since as I understand it only about 1/3 of the captured horses are rehomed and the rest are taken to a knackery.Would it be more humane for the 2/3 of horses captured that are sent to the knackery to be killed without capture in the field? If it was done properly I think it would be - there must be a lot of stress in the capture/remove/knackery process. I did some reading up on how slaughterhouses work and it seems not every animal there dies instantly either - just like in an aerial cull. Not necessarily because they want to be horrible to the animals (I'm sure some do but you'd have to hope most don't) but because each animal is a bit different.Even if capture/rehoming is more humane than aerial culling what about all the non-rehomed horses? I haven't seen any evidence that all the horses captured could be rehomed - at the current rate of capture/removal most captured horses are killed yet the horse numbers are growing. To get the numbers back under control even more horses would need to be captured, leading to even more being destroyed after capture/removal.
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        • Bio-Brumby almost 4 years ago
          23-Oct-2014 Hi Peter_mcc, Passive trapping has taken over from the trapping carried our pre Guy Fawkes 2000 cull. These days the Brumbies are attracted to enter the 'trap' by whatever they are in need of, water, food, salt etc. Provided once the gate is closed, they are treated in a quiet, slow manner, they will adapt to human presence, and the food & water they bring to the trap site within a couple of days. As discussed on several chat topics, the additional stress of being transported to an abettor is unnecessary, if re-homing groups cannot collect the Brumbies, my preference, is the most humane method would be to shoot them on site. However those transported to re-homing groups will settle just as quickly in their new calm surroundings as the initial trap. From then on they start to readily adapt to human ways, provided they are not pressured unduly.Regards Bio-Brumby
      • Khankhan about 4 years ago
        A bit of history as to why the Guy Fawkes cull was necessary at the time. My memory was refreshed by C Chapple in 'Zoologist' Vol.33(2) Dec. 2005 that 'there were plans put forward by NPWS in September 2000 to continue with mustering and trapping (of feral horses in Guy Fawkes (sic)), but using vehicles to truck horses out. However, conditions in the Park as a result of drought and bushfires became so severe that helicopter shooting was considered for the first time. Severe bushfires had burnt out some 60% of the Park from early September, and increasing numbers of horses were seen along the Guy Fawkes River by helicopters involved in firefighting. The horses were noted to be in very poor condition.' I expect there was severe and increasing damage being done to the river flats and banks by the concentration of horses seeking water and scarce green-pick too. The long drought had begun. There was not a lot of time for consultation. By comparison consultation on the removal of feral horses in KNP has gone on for > a decade. The outcome of that protracted consultation period, has been division, positions held onto, feral horse numbers have increased very significantly, few are removed, and 60% of those end up at the knackery, and KNP continues to be severely damaged, in places perhaps beyond rehabilitation.People are also concerned that multiple wounds found on dead horses have occurred because of inaccuracies of the licenced (in NSW Feral Animal Aerial Shooter Training (FAAST) shooters. Ref: Standard Operating Proceedure HOR002: Aerial Shooting of Feral horses. http://www.feral.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/HOR002_aerial_shooting.pdf . Because it is difficult to assess from a distance if an animal is dead, 'it is essential that a deliberate policy of 'overkill' be followed, where a minimum of two shots are used per animal. That is, after an initial head or chest shot (to horses (sic)), another shot must be fired into the chest or head to ensure death. .... A 'fly back' procedure must be followed, in which the shooter is flown back over the shot animals so that follow-up shots to the vital areas can be applied.' Note the minimum of two shots. Often more then two shots are used to ensure rapid death, rather than wounding that can cause pain and suffering.
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        • Donna about 4 years ago
          Khankhan, I personally do not assume that the number of wounds found on the dead horses constitute inaccuracies, I'm concerned and convinced that the photos depicting foals with wounds in their rump and sides and no visible bleeding or wound from a shot to the head or chest clearly demonstrate a lack of accuracy and care by the supposed 'expert marksman', along with a failure to do a follow up sweep of any kind by NPWS. As you've clearly read the FAAST SOP, you'll be aware that there are specific areas the shooter must aim for, and they don't include the rump or side."There was not a lot of time for consultation" is one of those oft repeated excuses used to justify a total lack of concern for public opinion, something I find incredibly ironic given the NPWS is basically a public service agency.I ask you to consider the fact there was not sufficient reason for a cull in GF NP in 2000, any more than there is a need for it in KNP today. Ask yourself why they concluded at the time that aerial culling was the only practicable solution, and yet today we have horses being passively removed from GF NP on a regular basis; oddly enough with no shooting needed. If they can accomplish it now, passively, why not then??I believe you're incorrect in your statement that the consultation period for KNP has exceeded 10 years, as I disagree with your following comments regarding the impacts and increase in numbers. Neither of the latter can be credibly proven, as I and others have said repeatedly. Where did you learn that KNP has been irreparably and severely damaged? In what exact area has this occurred and what reparation works were needed?
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          • peter_mcc almost 4 years ago
            I think the situation at GF NP preceeding the 2000 cull was that horse numbers had risen despite their best attempts at controlling them using removal. KNP is similar in that sense - there has been regular removal of horses yet their numbers keep on rising. It would appear to me that in both cases removal alone was not achieving the legislated NPWS aim of controlling the number of feral animals in the parks.Given the low numbers captured in the preceeding years do you believe that NPWS could have captured/removed 600 horses in Oct 2000? That would me many multiples of what they had managed to catch over years (and even that catching process lead to the death of many horses).Leaving side the humanity of aerial culling for a second, how humane would it have been to leave the horses like they were, in "very poor condition" with a drought that showed no sign of ending and a park that was 60% burnt out? I get it that people think the aerial cull was inhumane - but was the option of letting them die slowly of thirst/starvation better?
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            • Donna almost 4 years ago
              Again, the information available is somewhat murky when it comes to evidence for the cull in 2000; as with the culls in the NT and WA, there were claims of exorbitant numbers suffering through lack of water and feed. And yet, there is much evidence available to dispute those claims, pictures of horses in good condition, drinking from waterholes well able to sustain them for months. They were still gunned down. You keep referring to a rise in numbers in KNP and to be honest it's starting to irk me. The recent count does not support the theory that numbers are increasingly out of control, nor does it offer justification for an action as extreme as aerial culling. The horses in KNP are not dying from thirst or starvation, and even when they are, apparently NPWS's solution is to send in the chopper and guns, legal or no. With regard to the cull in GF NP, I do not believe all options were considered beforehand, hence the situation being what it is today with the same horses, in the same park. As I've mentioned before, the use of aerial culling should be an option only under a specific set of circumstances, and they do not include shooting mid foaling season in an area where follow up to ensure a swift death is not possible. It is beside the point that they disposed of 600 horses in 2000 in a short period, they did so in a way that saw them commit a slaughter of tremendous proportions in an incredibly inhumane way, the repercussions of which are that aerial culling is now band in NSW. Was their action justified, thought out and responsible? Or a rash and impatient reaction to an issue they'd ignored, with no regard for the welfare of the horses? I'm gonna go with the latter myself.There is no "leaving aside" the humanity of aerial culling, when we do, we see the results we've seen in GF, The Kimberley and Tempe Downs.
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              • peter_mcc almost 4 years ago
                Sorry, there is the need to "leave aside" the humanity of aerial culling for GF NP - I'm asking you what you think should have been done and you've given me the handwaving "other options" answer. That irks me. What do you think should have been done to deal with the horses back in 2000?
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                • Donna almost 4 years ago
                  Touché Peter, though of course I still vehemently disagree. If one thing is clear from the report on the GF cull, it is that the local community themselves were never considered part of a possible solution in managing the horses, it was only after the cull their opinions were sought and I find this a massive failing on behalf of NPWS; encouraging and enlisting the support and assistance of a community with close historical ties to the horses could have seen a very different outcome, with a lot less bloodshed. There are obviously areas within the park suitable for passive trapping, as it is possible today. That option obviously was not fully explored or considered, rather they preferred to maintain a lack of access meant it was not possible and the harsh and cruel methods you mentioned earlier were employed instead. If as they claimed, the horses were suffering and unable to be taken from the park for rehoming, at the very least ground shooting was an option rather than aerial; if they were able to gain enough access to take horses out of the park using whatever means, it stands to reason they could get close enough to make a cleaner kill shot than possible from the air. Lastly and most importantly, is what they should NOT have done, and that was to aerial cull. Are we now arrogant enough to let history repeat itself, claiming greater knowledge and better skill, but still somewhat ironically responding with the same archaic, brutal action??
                • Bio-Brumby almost 4 years ago
                  Hi peter_mcc, to answer to what should have been done to deal with the horses back in 2000. My response is doing what was done after the cull, i.e. consult local communities, involve those with passive trap knowledge to upskill GFRNP staff. Since 2002 GFRNP staff have become the example that has shown improved trap practices to staff in Kosciusko and Vic Alps. The significant efforts to improve practices, understanding of wild horse behaviours and how to minimise trap stress levels is vital to passive trapping humanly. Regards, Bio-Brumby
              • peter_mcc almost 4 years ago
                Your doubting of the increase in horse numbers in KNP irks me too. Do you have any evidence that the horse numbers for the surveys are incorrect? If so, let's hear it - I get irked by constant references to it being wrong but am hearing nothing other than handwaving to back it up. From 4200 to 6000 in 5 years is an increase - even with horses being removed.If nothing different is done they will continue to increase. At some point it is going to get out of control. Many would say that has happened already - pointing to the environmental damage that the horses are causing now and contrasting that to the amount of damage that was occurring in the past. Others seem to think that the damage caused by the horses is acceptable at the moment.
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                • Donna almost 4 years ago
                  In order to have faith in the recent numbers produced, one would have to believe the numbers given following the 2009 count, and myself and many others don't, with good reason. The recent count, as was the case with the one in 2009, was conducted in a way that saw only a portion of the park 'counted' for horses, with calculations later based on the 2009 results and quantified. And with a percent of error either way of 25% for the 2009 count and I think 11.5% for this years count, it's a long way from precise. Can I now ask you, given the manner in which these numbers are achieved, why you still believe without question that numbers have increased?"At some point it is going to get out of control" - We're going on 200 years Peter, and there's still enough area left undamaged to be listed firstly as a NP and secondly as pristine wilderness, I think it's pretty clear someone's blowing things out of proportion here, and it's not the 'pro brumby' people...
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                  • peter_mcc almost 4 years ago
                    I acknowledge that counting the number of horses in an area as big as the Australian Alps is not a simple task - it is a huge area. However, NPWS is not the first organisation in the world to come across this problem and the sampling method they have used seems reasonably well known and trusted.Of course only part of the park was counted - they only counted the areas where the horses were generally found, taking strips 2km apart. Did you expect them to fly over the whole park? There is a heap more science behind the numbers than you are giving credit for - it seems like you are just waving your hands and saying you don't believe it.I get sick of hearing sceptics writing off valid scientific research with a wave of the hand because they don't like the results. It is disrespectful towards the scientists who have done the research. If people have a problem with it then they should come up with a scientific response, not a hand waving one. None of the "pro brumby" people would accept similar reasoning on the humaneness of aerial culling.If the horse counts were so biased why did they show the numbers dropping in 2003? Surely if they were going to fudge the figures they wouldn't have shown a drop.The 2009 horse count report talks about how the area that the horses are found in has increased since the last survey, backed up by reports from rangers. Is that disputed too? More horses over a bigger area means more damage.Your last comment is also weird. The graziers used to kill the horses (reported widely) because they took feed the cattle wanted and disrupted the working horses. So that knocks out most of the 200 year period. The part has been listed as NP for a long time (nearly 50 years) and isn't likely to be unlisted because it contains too many FERAL horses. Secondly the wilderness declarations were made a while ago, when the horse numbers were lower. Are you suggesting we let the horses "roam free", breeding as fast as they like, trashing the place until the pristine wilderness looks like a farm?I think it's pretty clear that the lack of logic isn't coming from the people who love the KNP and want to see it protected from feral horses.
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                    • Donna almost 4 years ago
                      It may very well be a reasonably well known and trusted method for doing such a count, however I'm sure it isn't necessary to then extrapolate the numbers derived from this count with those of a count done in 2009, using a technique with a much larger margin of error - it stands to reason if the initial data was flawed, any subsequent data will be also. This is my reason for doubting the numbers given and method used - certainly a stronger basis than a mere wave of the hand I believe. You have inadvertently proved my point re aerial culling with your comment about none of us 'pro brumby' people simply believing a "hand waving" response to our concerns regarding its humaneness - that is precisely what is occurring throughout this discussion, we are asked to believe that although horses have suffered immensely through the use of this method in previous culls, we should accept the hand waving excuses that they'll do better next time, it's more humane than trapping, it's the most efficient etc. What valid scientific research have we been given to reassure us? What other than a mere piece of paper do we have to even guide us in what the horses can expect should aerial culling recommence? What assurances do we have that the shooters will be the best available, the pilot the most experienced and capable? Yep, you guessed it, I too am sick to death of hearing blasé responses and glib comments. As to the numbers dropping in '03, that would be the inevitable result of massive fires that wiped out over half the population I believe - bit hard to fudge the numbers on that one! The fires are also the reason horses are now being seen in areas they weren't before - it's a bit hard to stay in the forested areas when they're so overgrown with blackberry even the most determined horse would fail to push through it. Sorry to weird you out, but it makes my comment no less accurate. There is a tremendous amount of evidence available detailing the relationship the graziers and early settlers had with the brumbies, from as far back as the late 1800's, and I know for certain it was a great deal more involved and valued than merely killing them when they encroached on their land; to even suggest such a thing is an insult to the many generations of families still living in the Snowy's who struggle to hold onto their heritage. I am in no way suggesting we 'farm' KNP, not by a long shot. We certainly must address any impacts occurring, but in saying that, we must first ascertain the extent of those impacts and the specific causes - we simply cannot point the finger at the horses because they're an 'easy target', pun intended. You speak of logic and yet seem to have an aversion to it, I'm not sure what else I can say.
        • Bio-Brumby almost 4 years ago
          Hi Khankhan, You have a point that shooters may use multiple shots to ensure death, but the RSPCA-NSW alleged 226 cruelty cases against NPWS with evidence to go before the court of horses shot in the stomach, legs, shot through their mouth with their teeth blown out, some aerial shots had been made from directly above trying to finish the horse off and it was only around the nose and through the mouth that the horse had been shot. It seems the shooters were so inaccurate that even overhead of a stationary animal they failed to gain one kill shot. In short, multiple wounds alone are not humane, unless at least one shot is a kill shot. Regards, Bio-Brumby
      • Khankhan about 4 years ago
        The recent furore over the starving horses caught in the snows in KNP, has resulted in some three horses being shot, according to the Snowy Brumby Support Group. They and others wanted NPWS to drop in bales of hay. Should NPWS have fed those stressed and dying horses caught in this season's snows? Two issues here. (1) the NPWS does not intervene to euthanise native animals dying of old age, injury or misjudgement, or caught out in the snow; nor does it intervene to destroy native animals dying slowly from loss of habitat caused by the impacts of feral horses. (2) The NPWS Act requires NPWS to protect native animals, plants and specified natural areas. Fortunately it does not require them to provide feed to any feral animal, including horses, in time of drought, stress or snow. This event (if true), could set a terrible precedent, that a particular feral animal be treated more advantageously than native animals in the same location or elsewhere. Lets see if this discrimination against the protection or humane deaths of native animals disturbs any readers. In reality, and impossible task implement even if desirable. But snow falls occur each year. The area in KNP is not called 'Dead Horse Gap' for nothing.
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        • Donna about 4 years ago
          Again, I'd ask that you clarify your claims of native animals dying slowly from loss of habitat caused by the impacts of feral horses?
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          • Khankhan almost 4 years ago
            I'm not being rude, but can you clarify your claims that native animals are NOT dying from loss of habitat caused by the impacts of feral horses?
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            • Donna almost 4 years ago
              As stated several times by NPWS employee's at community meetings, there is no conclusive evidence that the horses have impacted in that way on any native fauna. Now, would you show me the same courtesy regarding your claims??
        • Bio-Brumby almost 4 years ago
          Hi Khankhan, Objective (a) of the Act relates to the ‘conservation of nature’. The second and third objectives focus on conserving cultural value within the landscape. As read the Act, it makes a point of conserving both nature and cultural values; therefore we need to retain a reasonable balance of Brumby heritage with conservation of nature – by having sustainable Brumby Populations living wild, as well as the interests of bush walkers, holiday makers, painters, plus Aboriginal and post settlement cultural heritage. Regards, Bio-Brumby
      • Bio-Brumby almost 4 years ago
        Hi chat room people,I must clarity that all the Brumbies passively trapped in Guy Fawkes NP are collected by Two (2) rehoming groups, one is Guy Fawkes Heritage Horse Association and the other is Save The Brumbies , at their New England Brumby Sanctuary. Both near the park, usually they share by alternating collections. Regards, Bio-Brumby
  • HVBA Vice President almost 4 years ago
    For me it is simple. For an animal to be treated humanly, it means that during its life, it lives free of fear, pain and stress, and during its death, it has the same experience, free of fear, pain and stress. See, simple. I know that accidents happen, that sometimes this is not possible, in the trap yards you will occasionally find that a horse will be so terrified that it will run into the panel and break its neck and need to be put down, these things happen and they are no ones fault, but we must do everything possible to make sure this is the exception and not the rule. The SOP for Aerial culling of horses states that in areas of poor vision this method should not be used because it is inhumane, and that horses can become terrified by the sounds of the helicopter and gunshots, I have said this before, this method is unsuitable for the Kozi management plan and should not be considered. As for the mental state of the horses that have been trapped up to this point, the staff that do the trapping do an amazing job! I have said this before too, but we have picked up many kozi horses (and other brumbies), from different places, and those that come directly from the NSWP guys are in perfect condition. They are calm, curious and content. They load well and stand beautifully in our trailer (we have a camera set up so we can watch them on the trip, and they mostly just pick at the hay on the floor), they settle within a few days and are able to be let out into the paddock to relax for a few weeks before training. There is minimal fear, minimal stress, and no pain whatsoever. Contrast this with running terrified from the roar of a helicopter, tripping over logs and falling in rabbit holes, seeing other horses fall dead at their feet, and catching a bullet in the neck as it ricochets off the tree that it was blocking 2 seconds previously, before finally being put out of its misery as its foal stands helplessly next to it, and I think I know which fits my definition of humane more cleanly.
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    • peter_mcc almost 4 years ago
      I don't see why aerial culling is so unacceptable - you've admitted that things go wrong in trapping then said we must do everything possible to make it the exception rather than the rule. In the next sentence you've ruled out aerial culling based on some exceptions. Why not apply the same logic?
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      • HVBA Vice President almost 4 years ago
        Simply because, while I can easily remove a few panels to make the yards smaller so the horse wont get up enough speed to break its neck, or put padding up the side of the panels so it can't get its leg stuck, I do not think that people would be particularly pleased if I chopped down the trees to improve the visibility for the shooters. Avoiding shooting all mares just because some might have foals hidden that would starve to death after the mother dies is also not feasible, you cannot easily tell the horses gender from above and avoiding half the population you were trying to control makes the whole process pointless. There is not really anyway to combat the noise issue (that the SOP admits to) of horses becoming terrified from the noise and hurting themselves when fleeing. As for miss hits, well no one can blame the marksman for having trouble hitting a, lets say, 50cm round target (horses chest size) that is moving at 70km/hr when he himself is swaying around at similar speeds out the side of a helicopter. There is no way to minimise "accidents" to an acceptable level in this case, but that is ok, because I believe we are smart enough to come up with a better solution anyway. A humane solution. The right solution. We just need to move on from this silly debate about aerial culling, which would be done against SOP if it was used, and start talking about some real, practical solutions that might actually be able to be used to manage the population. I'll start. What does everyone think about the humaneness of mustering into trap yards. For me, it has its drawbacks, such as putting stress on the horses that isn't there in passive trapping, but I think if used appropriately, it could help to meet the target number of animals to be removed each year (if we had one) more quickly, which should drive down cost, which appears to be the only real issue with the current program. If rescue groups knew a muster was going to happen, say every april, we could try to adopt out our previous years horses by that time of year so we could take a larger percentage for rehoming. More horses being rehomed is obviously a great outcome as the don't die. (I also want to stress that we make a loss, a very big loss, on every single horse we rescue, so this is not a ploy to get more money for my association as some people would like to suggest). If mustering is done slowly, and is more like just directing the horses where to walk rather than chasing them down the mountain (which would be inhumane due to stress and fear) I think it could be a useful tool. Would be interested to hear what everyone else thinks!
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        • peter_mcc almost 4 years ago
          I have no comment on the humaneness of the mustering idea - I know mustering gets a bad rap on the humaneness scale from a number of sources but I'm not sure if that's "slow" mustering or "chasing" mustering. But I like your idea of trying to come up with other answers. One thing I find frustrating is the knowledge that the horse numbers are increasing and that the current capture/remove process cannot keep up yet nobody seems to have any idea on what should be done, apart from aerial culling which all the "horse lovers" decry. If you take out aerial culling what is left to reduce the numbers back to a point where they don't do so much damage?
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          • HVBA Vice President almost 4 years ago
            This I think is the big problem we face. I think we need to work out an estimate of how much the population is increasing by each year and use that as a target for removal each year as a starting point. Then I think it will come down to a complex mixed method approach in order to reach that target. Some passive trapping, some fertility control, some active trapping and some fencing on those areas that are particularly sensitive. We can look at ways of stopping influx into the park such as helping with improving programs in adjoining state forests, looking at ways to regulate breeding so that there is not so many excess horse out there, I don't know if people releasing into the park is still an issue, but tighter regulations on that would also help if it is. Then we can look at ways to get the community involved. Getting more brumbies rehomed is a large part of this, but I also like the idea of getting the community to help monitor the population. There might be areas that could easily be trapped that the parks guys might not see horses at but locals do for example so they could tell the rangers when they see them, how many are there etc. The community can also help pay for the program by putting up donation boxes throughout the park so people can contribute when they come to see the brumbies. Recognising that they are a tourism asset and using that to get money to manage the population seems to me to be a smart idea. I think a big problem is that while no one will admit it, at it's heart this is currently trying to be an eradication program rather than a management program. Even though it is recognised that it would be close to impossible to remove all horses from the park. Removal of all species from an area really only happens on Islands because you can stop the inflow at the same time, in an area as large as the knp that would be an extremly costly fencing venture. If we can recognise that there will always be horses in the park, but we need to just keep the numbers down, we might start to get somewhere. We need to know what sized population would be acceptable and work towards that. Basically we need some goals so that we can start to work towards meeting them. At the moment it seems like we are just taking a stab in the dark and missing. Although I must admit I think the current program has worked better than expected, the population certainly didn't increase by as much as was expected so I think it's a good place to start, we just need to tweak it to get closer to the goals.
          • Donna almost 4 years ago
            What's left?Increased participation from the local community which in turn requires an acceptance of their extensive knowledge and experience with the horses, increased publicity of the positives as opposed to the unsubstantiated negatives of the horses - actively work toward shifting the bias away from 'feral' pest to even tempered, easily trained children's ponies. An increase in pro active participation by NPWS to enable re homing of as many horses as possible, just to name a few options. The facts are that the horses, whatever their true number, have been allowed to exist unmanaged for long enough - REAL long term management is needed, encompassing the entire issue, not simply the 'end' result, and that includes accepting their existence in the park, in my humble opinion anyway.
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            • peter_mcc almost 4 years ago
              Increasing community participation will help rehome some of the currently captured horses that are culled. That's a good thing - if the horses are as good as you and others say it seems a shame to send them a kackery after spending so much money and effort catching them. But I can't see how it will address the issue that NPWS has of increasing horse numbers at the moment. Sure, a big bushfire or huge snow season might wipe out lots of them (ignoring, of course, how humane it is to let them starve or get burnt) as it has in the past. But assuming that neither happens soon the numbers will keep on increasing.I feel like you're sidestepping the issue of what should be done to reduce their numbers. Should we therefore assume that you don't think the horse numbers need to be reduced?
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              • HVBA Vice President almost 4 years ago
                I think this is a really interesting point. At the moment we don't actually know how much damage the horses are doing and we don't even know how much damage a single horse does, what the cumulative effect is, if stallions do mare damage than mares, if pigs do more damage than horses, if the horses are providing any benifits to the landscape etc etc. We don't know if the landscape has evolved since the horses arrived, although I assume that it has, if some species can show evolutionary progress in just 10years (http://www.iflscience.com/plants-and-animals/invaders-drove-lizards-evolve-stickier-feet-just-10-years), then I assume over the course of the 200 years that the horses have been there, the ecology of the alps would have definitely evolved and we don't know what effect the horses have had on this evolution or what would happen if we try to change it again. There was meant to be studies done as part of the last management plan to answer some of these important questions, but they didn't occur. We don't know how many horses could sustainably live in the park, so we don't know how many need to come out, if any. When we all agree that it would be unfeasible to remove every single horse, that seems strange to me. We need a goal to work towards. Why would we bother spending the money on reducing the numbers, if they didn't need to be reduced. The current levels might be fine, we could just work on keeping them at this level. If 6000 is too many, maybe 4000 would be ok, so we could work on bringing them down to that level, and then reduce the program back to keeping that level. Maybe there will be a bushfire next year and the number will go down to 2000 again, then we could do even less for a few years. This program need flexibilty, it needs to adapt to the needs of the time, and it could do that if we create those contingencies into the program. There is absolutely no point in setting trap yards up when there is going to be a snow dump, so why do it. There is no point trying to take every single horse out of the wilderness areas unless you fence them off, so why bother, new horses will just migrate back to those areas. I think this is the real challenge for us, setting goals for the program that we can aim for. To answer your question, I actually do not know if the numbers need to be reduced. We need to establish what is an acceptable population size, then we can work out if they need to be reduce. But I am assuming, based only on anecdotal evidence, that they do need to be reduced, and will be reduced, and I want the methods used to do that to be humane, to make sure as many Brumbies as possible can be rehomed, and those that have to be destroyed are done so in a way that means they do not suffer any stress, fear or pain.
  • Khankhan almost 4 years ago
    In early dialogues the pro-brumby advocates have cited Craig C. Downer from the USA as an eminent scientist on wild horse matters. Downer recently presented a paper at the Annual Conference of the Ecological Society of Australia, which concluded 'that we should not dismiss the positive role that Australia's wild horses can play in restoring a healthy equilibrium'. These claims, based on horses that occupied North America for prolonged periods of time, even prior to the last Ice Age say that horses in that environment have coexisted for many millions of years, differ significantly from 150-200 years of horse occupancy in the Australian alpine areas. Yes, the Australian feral horse may have adapted, but the Australian landscape has not. Readers should read the recently released Draft Recovery Plan for Alpine Sphagnum Bogs and Associated Fens Ecological Community, by the Commonwealth Government http://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/9cc1f452-9121-44e1-aa88-80939c14d404/files/draft-recovery-plan-alpine-sphagnum-bogs.pdf . Feral horses are listed amongst the key threats to these alpine communities. What an endictment that the situation of these threatend ecological communities across the entire Australian alpine parks system (as listed under the EPBC Act) has become so critical that the Commonwealth Government (little known these days for its environmental credentials or protectionist action) should release (in August 2014) this major draft Recovery Plan for sphagnum and fen communities. These ecological communities are the very places that feral horses are attracted to and impact most significantly.Furthermore Craig C Downer, in any number of documents to be found on the internet, says that in order for the natural balance in horse numbers to be maintained, nature horse predators must be reintroduced. What are those predators? The puma, wolf and bear! So apart from that emphatic and repeated position that to 'accord with natural selection and produce a more fit and well-adapted population' of horses, natural predators are required. What would we do in Australia? Introduce the soon-to-be feral puma, wolf and bear? I wonder how the pro-brumby people would see the savage mauling and killing of feral horses, not to mention the easy targets of our entire native animal population by other introduced feral animals - the puma, the wolf and the bear? Would that be humane?
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    • Bio-Brumby almost 4 years ago
      Hi Khankhan, Thanks for pointing out Craig C. Downer’s presentation ‘that we should not dismiss the positive role that Australia's wild horses can play in restoring a healthy equilibrium'. I support Craig’s qualification that to obtain the best results, balance in horse numbers needs to be maintained. Not sure about introducing the puma, wolf and bear! Wild horses have some natural predators, snakes, dogs, drought, wild fires etc. but in the good years, it is not sufficient to keep populations from increasing. I support keeping a sustainable number of Brumbies living Wild. Too much of any species, including humans, upsets ‘balance’. To me the most humane removal is passive trapping, low stress ground management, rehome as many as skilled people can take, and shoot on site those not collected. There are protocols for shooting horses from trap yards once so they are separated and screened from the rest. This to me, this is the most humane control option available at present to remove large numbers. We already have access to fertility control on horse populations up to 2000, that is cost effective and dart delivered. Regards, Bio-Brumby
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      • Bio-Brumby almost 4 years ago
        TYPO CORRECTION from above Bio-Brumby comments. We already have access to fertility control on horse populations up to 200 (not 2,000), that is cost effective and dart delivered. My apologies, Regards, Bio-Brumby
  • Themba about 4 years ago
    To me, humane treatment means treating all animals with respect regardless of whether they have been labelled feral or not. It means minimising stress and not causing injury to the animal. Shooting a moving target is not a "clean" or humane way to kill an animal and rarely results in a quick death.Unfortunately I was not able to run the RSPCA video but will try again later to see what they have to say. As the RSPCA are an advocate for animals and was originally created to address the welfare of horses I would think they would have a large interest in ensuring the wild horses are treated with respect and not subjected to cruelty of any type.
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    • nicole about 4 years ago
      Hi Themba, I note you were unable to run the video - was that because of an issue with the site? If so, please let us know so we can investigate. Thanks.
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      • Themba almost 4 years ago
        Hi Admin3,The issues was with my dying computer, all good now. Thanks
    • peter_mcc about 4 years ago
      I spent hours looking for info on the Guy Fawkes NP cull back in 2000 and in the end gave up because I can't work out what happened. There is a government report saying they all (but 1) died quickly. And there are claims that up to 226 died slowly. This far away from an event it is hard to work out what is true and what is not. And because the details of what happened are fairly gruesome there aren't many photos/videos that I can find which show inhumane killing in that cull. There are lots of photos of dead horses on the ground - but that in itself doesn't mean they died an inhumane death.But I am interested in your statement that it is not possible to shoot a moving target cleanly to kill an animal quickly and humanely. There seem to be several organisations, including the RPSCA, who say that it can be done. What do you base your statement on? I'm not trying to be narky - I have spent hours looking into this (hours which I don't really have to spend on it).
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      • Donna about 4 years ago
        That's the frustrating thing about cover ups Peter, they're as clear as mud! Seriously though, there were many eye witnesses to the horses who suffered, people who lived on the edge of the park who found them. The photos you say do not prove they suffered an inhumane death show mares aborting foals with up to 6 shots in their body I believe, and foals standing over their dead mothers left to die a slow death on their own. It's really hard for me to find the humanity in any of that. You say you can't find many photos or videos showing inhumane killing in the GF cull, but by the same token, can you find those that show the killing to be HUMANE?? The 'gruesome' details you speak of are the reality of what happened, not the sugar coated version available to the general public I've found. It's late and I'm tired, but I do have a link I'll share tomorrow of a video regarding the shooting of horses from a helicopter, I think you'll find it interesting.
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        • peter_mcc about 4 years ago
          Please add any links you have. It seems that the Brumby lovers aren't so good at keeping the "lights on" for their websites so some of the links that claimed to have evidence are now dead.
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          • Donna about 4 years ago
            It would appear we're both having the same problem accessing links Peter, my apologies but I'm unable to source the one I wanted to share. I would like to share the following link of a youtube video about the Waler horses trapped and trained for the Mitavite Waler Challenge at Equitana Sydney in 2013. This was an exercise undertaken by the Waler Horse Society of Australia, along with the services of a gent named Don Child's, described in the video as a 'horse wrangler'. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=raD1Gq2Iy2U&feature=youtu.beThese horses were removed from central Australian open country, however after attempting several capture methods including mustering by helicopter, Mr Child's declares trapping as the most successful and humane, stating that use of the helicopter proved "too cruel, knocking the horses up too much". I can only surmise from this statement that the effect of being 'knocked up' would be exacerbated greatly by the addition of flying bullets. One thing that is painfully apparent to me from the information available is that the execution of this method under various conditions invariably results in the suffering of a number of animals. As I've mentioned before, the culls in both WA and NT last year were both declared successful, despite evidence obtained by various sources of horses left alive, wounded and suffering in the extreme heat. As is amply demonstrated by the pictures available of foals with several shots in their sides and rump among other horrors, it is disturbingly obvious that despite all the preparations, skill or training, making a clean kill shot from a helicopter on a fast moving animal is extremely difficult, if not impossible. It is unfortunate you were unable to find relevant information at the site you visited. If you'd like to gain further understanding of the reasons many believe aerial culling to be inhumane, you may want to visit the following sites. http://www.sosnews.org/?cat=19http://snowymountainsbrumbysmg.webs.com/http://wildhorseskimberley13.wordpress.com/This video may be the one you were unable to access on the site you visited.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AL9KlLqL1bIWith regard to the varying reports on the GF cull, I strongly advise you to use your common sense in evaluating the information and to question. Ask yourself why the RSPCA would have even bothered bringing charges against NPWS in the first instance, if for only one unsuccessful kill? Ask why the entire state at the time, along with the international community, were up in arms and aghast at the horror of the stories being told by those who were on the scene, people on neighbouring properties who discovered wounded and dying horses, riders who were in the park at the time because the entire operation was so secretive, there were apparently no warnings in place to prevent entry while the cull was under way.Of course, ALL the information available can and WILL be interpreted as the reader sees fit and in line with their own beliefs, however pictures don't lie and when all is said and done, they show aerial culling to be inhumane and cruel.
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            • peter_mcc almost 4 years ago
              Interestingly, the sosnews.org site second article rails against the trapping of horses:"(horses are) tricked into entering trap yards laced by salt, molasses, rice straw in the depths of winter. From the salt laced trap yards the terrified horses are bundled onto trailers and sent to slaughter ""Terrified horses" doesn't sound very humane to me...But that is a side issue... on with the main show!I have no objection to the horses being trapped and rehomed. But I have yet to see any "pro brumby" person address the humanity of the process, especially when the majority of the horses are being sent off to the knackery to make very expensive dog food. I have no doubt that they can be trained and turn into lovely horses. But that's not really the issue we're debating here is it - the whole site is about protecting the snowy mountains and how to deal with the excessive horse population that is damaging the environment.The comment about helicopters "knocking up" the horses was made in the context of mustering the horses for capture - not culling. The length of time the horses are "chased" by the helicopter for culling is rather short since the aim is to shoot one then move along to the next - not to flush the horses to a trap kilometers away. And yes, the horses get more "knocked up" with a bullet - that's the aim... I saw the video before. At first I thought it was amusing but it soon turned to farce. It would also seem to be inaccurate - claiming that 226 horses were killed, not 600. Dr English works for Sydney University (not NSW University) which gets little or no state funding. So, "independent - definitely". I'd guess he's a lot less biased than the sosnews people... remembering at this point we're only 1:20 into a 9:35 video. The "images" showed lots of dead horses - but then that was the aim of the whole thing. I guess the film is playing to the audience - people who think that the Alps can support 50,000 brumbies happily and that they do no damage. I'm also pretty sure that a Robinson 44 helicopter carrying a person with a gun doesn't meet the "gunship" definition used by most people in society.I have used common sense and I can't work it out. I'm not dismissing the claims of cruelty but I have yet to see anything from either side that convinces me. Most of it seems to come down to Greg Everingham's testimony vs Dr English's report. There are no pictures I can find which show in enough detail a horse that has been incorrectly culled. Dead horses on the ground alone doesn't count - that was their aim.Sure, the Guy Fawkes cull could have been done better - people shouldn't have been in the park, for example. But I still don't know what to make of it all.
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              • Donna almost 4 years ago
                With reference to the comments found on the SOS news site, they are being made by people who believe the horses should remain in the park, not be removed via trapping and not be eradicated via shooting, hence their decision to highlight the fear the horses feel throughout the trapping/removal/slaughter process - the reasoning behind it being they should never experience ANY of it.In terms of the humanity of either process, trapping wins hands down, I think that's a no brainer. If we're going to point fingers at those ignoring the humanity of it all, all of mine are pointed firmly at NPWS. It is within their power to "engage" on a more productive level with the local community; the generations of people with the experience, knowledge and a genuine vested interest in the welfare of the horses, and yet such a resource remains untapped. Why? I've attended more than one meeting wherein I've heard complaints from people wanting to purchase horses directly from the park who are prevented from doing so because someone in their infinite 'wisdom' declared that only those able to take a truckload of up to 15 horses at a time were eligible for them, does that seem like the 'process' was set up with the horses welfare in mind or with the most expedient method of removal as top priority? You may say of course that their aim is just that, to remove the horses, but why do so in a way that costs the taxpayer so much when there are viable solutions on their doorstep so to speak, and in a way that sees so many horses 'disposed' of via dog food?? It is not the 'pro brumby' people overlooking the humanity of the process, rather we are struggling to find the humanity in any of it!! I'm incredibly confused by your statement that although you apparently used common sense, you're unable to find enough detail in the images to show the horses were incorrectly culled. I'm not sure what you were looking at exactly, but there are clear breaches of practice visible in those pictures, not the least of which was parks decision to carry out the cull mid foaling season. 50,000 brumbies, really?? That comment just makes you look facetious.The fact you "still don't know what to make of it all" tells me you're desperately trying to find a reasonable explanation for an unreasonable action, one you obviously support regardless. All that aside, the culls carried out in the time since GF in different parts of our country have all been consistent in one regard - their failure in terms of humanness.
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                • peter_mcc almost 4 years ago
                  The "50000 brumbies" comment comes from a contributor to the SOS News site in an ABC News article herehttp://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/bushtelegraph/4723832I certainly don't think there is any validity to it - you'd know that by now! Sorry if I worded my comment badly. This site is hopeless for putting links in because they disrupt the text so much.I can see NPWS point on not dealing with people who want a single horse - that would be a lot more work for them. Their priority is removal in a humane way. If the priority was the horses welfare they'd be setting up barns in KNP to keep the horses warm in Winter and dropping hay if they got hungry.I think I've seen a foal in one picture. The rest, to me, just show dead horses without enough detail to work out how they died.Your last comment about me is well off the mark. From the evidence I've seen there isn't much detail. There are claims from both sides with no evidence from either. Would you prefer I just took the position that suits me best and ignored the evidence?I don't think we're ever going to agree because we have different definitions of what is acceptable, of what "humane" means in the context of removing a feral animal from a National Park.
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                  • Donna almost 4 years ago
                    I have no personal preference on what you decide Peter, I'm merely calling it like I see it, and from where I sit you appear to have made the decision aerial culling is the preferable method and certainly expressed your opinion on the 'feral' status of the horses - these are the usual indicators a person is 'anti brumby'. And to state that neither side has supported their claims with evidence leaves me highly confused; you've referred to evidence you've sourced to support your position, as have I. Whether either of us believes the other is beside the point. Though NP's have a priority of removal, they also have an obligation to ensure the welfare of the horses - this should include making every effort to fulfil their goals of removal by creating opportunities for increased re homing, "more work" or not. Establishing a permanent facility outside the park to facilitate easier access by individuals may seem like a big expense, but what cost compared to the many years of trapping and or culling?? This option not only ensures more horses end up in homes rather than dog food, it creates employment opportunities for the local community, has the added possibility of training facilities, educational workshops, hosting of vet students or those in equine studies - all certainly more beneficial than a short term, ill advised option like aerial culling. If as you say, you are fine with how 'feral' animals are treated much worse than any other simply because we've assigned them that title, then yes you're correct, we can never agree.
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                    • peter_mcc almost 4 years ago
                      Do you think they have a bigger obligation to ensure the welfare of the horses than other feral animals?I'm interested to know how a permanent facility outside the park would fit in with NPWS's aims and priorities. I'm also interested to know how you would justify the cost (since it would be presumably millions of dollars over a 10 year period) given that the trapping/culling/etc would still need to occur - I can't see how the facility would do anything to reduce NPWS costs. Perhaps if they culled quite a lot of the horses now then the damage they do would go back to "old" levels and the issue would die down with a long term capture/removal program keeping the reduced population in check.
              • peter_mcc almost 4 years ago
                PS I only bought the SOS News site into it because you linked to it - I was assuming that by providing the links as a backup to your argument without providing a disclaimer that they didn't represent your views meant they did, in fact, represent what you thought should happen.
              • Bio-Brumby almost 4 years ago
                Hi peter_mcc . The RSPCA alleged various acts of cruelty and aggravated cruelty on a total of 226 horses found within GFRNP, and many left to die and at least one horse that was still alive after 10 days. I see why you thought the video said only 226 were killed. However the cruelty charges on 226 horses, was in addition to around 374 horses killed; making a total of around 600 shot.Regards, Bio-Brumby
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                • peter_mcc almost 4 years ago
                  The reason I said their video suggests 226 were killed is at 0:30"NSW National Parks Slaughtered 226 Brumbies in Guy Fawkes National Park leaving many wounded from helicopter cowboys with rifles...". Similar claims are repeated at 0:45.
      • Themba almost 4 years ago
        I was fortunate/unfortunate to watch footage of the aerial culling conducted in Guy Fawkes NP at the time it occurred. This footage was taken from the helicopter as they did the shooting. What I saw was large numbers of body shots and broken legs from bullets but not once did I see a clean shot that stopped the horses in their tracks. The shooting contravened the Code of practice for aerial shooting of horses in that they were shooting horses at the lead of the mob instead of the back, shooting multiple horses at a time instead of shooting one and making sure it was dead before shooting the next horse and not doing any follow up to ensure the horses were in fact dead. I would strongly advise those people pushing for aerial culling to watch the footage (I"m sure it is on the Net somewhere) and see just how humane you still think it is, particularly in comparison to passive trapping and re-homing.RSPCA policy is against the shooting of moving animals from a moving vehicle and states that aerial shooting will have little effect in forested areas. You will find this referred to in many of the horse management plans and RSPCA policy. RSPCA Chief Inspector David O'Shannessy did say that if conditions were met, they would support aerial culling. If you take a look at the RSPCA policy for the aerial shooting of horses you will find that it is very specific and detailed on how the killing should be conducted right down to the specific calibre of bullet. It also states it is "Conditionally acceptable" when compared to trapping, etc. If you have ever shot a gun you would have an idea of just how hard it is to get a clean killing shot on an animal that is standing still let alone when it and you are moving. The horses as they are running are constantly moving their heads and bodies and along with the movement of the helicopter it is near impossible to get a clean shot, particularly in tree cover.
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        • peter_mcc almost 4 years ago
          If what you have said about the footage and how they did it is correct then yes, they did not follow the code of practice. If you know where to find the footage please link it - I can't find it.Trapping has been done inhumanely in the past in Guy Fawkes NP before. Some people (sosnews.org) say that trapping them as it is currently done is cruel. So should we rule out trapping? I'd say no - we should just try to improve it and I treat aerial culling the same way.The RSPCA does approve aerial culling. Yes, there are conditions - so let's make sure they are followed.The shooters obviously need to be well trained - I have shot a gun before (tin cans and targets only) so I know how hard it is. But that's what the shooters are paid for - make sure they get the best. The fact that I can't do it doesn't mean someone else can't - there are lots of things other people are better at than me.
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          • Donna almost 4 years ago
            As I've mentioned before, to use aerial culling in KNP is to do so in contravention of the code of practice.
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            • peter_mcc almost 4 years ago
              I think we all know that. Many people think that it's time a knee jerk reaction from 14 years ago was overturned.
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              • Donna almost 4 years ago
                The code of practice I refer to relates to the execution of aerial culling, the terrain it is suitably used in etc, I think you're referring to the moratorium on aerial culling. Overturning that will have no consequence; KNP will still be an unsuitable location in which to correctly use aerial culling.
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                • peter_mcc almost 4 years ago
                  Do you meanhttp://www.feral.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/HOR002_aerial_shooting.pdfIt says:• Aerial shooting is used to control feral horses in remote, inaccessible or rugged terrain where horses cannot be caught or when there is no viable market for them. • In areas of heavy cover (eg vegetated creek lines, woodlands and forest), effectiveness is limited since horses might be concealed and difficult to locate from the air.Sounds like it could be suitable for some areas in KNP.
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                  • Donna almost 4 years ago
                    "Aerial shooting is used to control feral horses in REMOTE, INACCESSIBLE or rugged terrain WHERE HORSES CANNOT BE CAUGHT" "In areas of HEAVY COVER (eg vegetated creek lines, woodlands and forest), effectiveness is LIMITED"It doesn't just "sound" like it is completely UNSUITABLE for KNP, it quite obviously IS.
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                    • peter_mcc almost 4 years ago
                      I think you missed quoting the rest of the first one - "or when there is no viable market for them.". If NPWS is sending 60% of the CURRENT number of caught horses (remembering that the numbers are increasing despite this trapping/removal program) then surely catching more horses is going to end up with even more fitting into the "no viable market for them".The second one could just as easily be emphasised as:In areas of HEAVY cover (eg vegetated creek lines, woodlands and forest), effectiveness is LIMITED since horses might be CONCEALED and DIFFICULT TO LOCATE from the air.I think they are trying to say if it is heavily vegetated then you can't see the animals at all. Most of KNP isn't HEAVYily vegetated - most of it is pretty open, especially up high.I don't think either of the reasons mean it can not be used in some areas of KNP. Sure, there will be areas where it is not suitable. But that doesn't mean a blanket ban.
          • Themba almost 4 years ago
            Sorry but I have no interest in viewing the footage again, it has stayed with me all these years and I don't want to see it again. I would suggest you go back to the web page where you found the government report finding that the aerial cull was humane and see if they have it. If they don't then ask for a link to it as I'm sure they would be happy to provide a link to back up their report on how humane it was. If you do obtain a link could you please provide it to everyone on this forum to view.Can you please provide links to where the RSPCA states they approve of aerial culling? Was this approval conditional or was it a blanket statement? Does it mention how humane they rate it against other options?As you would probably guess, shooting a tin can or targets is nothing like shooting a live animal. Yes, a professional shooter can get a clean shot but only 98% of the time. The rest of the time they are off target.
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            • peter_mcc almost 4 years ago
              It has been widely reported that RSPCA doesn't have a blanket ban on aerial culling. Some examples of this being reported recently:http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/bushtelegraph/alps-brumby-cull/5290198http://australianbrumbyalliance.org.au/aba-disappointed-by-rspca-support-for-aerial-culling/http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-02-27/shooting-brumbies-in-national-parks/5267898http://horsezone.com.au/news/brumby-aerial-culling-proposal-shocks-vic-government-and-rspca-supporters-4141/If they can get a clean shot 98% of the time that sounds pretty good to me. From what I've read that's better than some abattoirs achieve for first attempt stunning/killing.
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              • Themba almost 4 years ago
                I think it is well known that the RSPCA don't have a blanket ban on aerial culling. The question was, is the RSPCA approval you mentioned a blanket approval and does it mention how humane they rate it against other options? None of the links you have provided answer these questions nor are they direct statements from the RSPCA supporting what you have claimed. Do you have any links direct from the RSPCA to support your claim that they support aerial culling?Sorry to get your hopes up, the 98% is actually for a stationary shooter and a stationary target with little to no wind. The percentage is greatly reduced with a moving target and a shooter on a moving platform.
            • Donna almost 4 years ago
              Actually, I'm pretty sure the last cull completed in the NT showed only 58% of horses died instantly, to me this would suggest they're off target a lot more than 98% of the time....
            • Bio-Brumby almost 4 years ago
              Hi Themba, maybe better to check out the RSPCA Australia site as that is supposed to provide a policy basis for each state rspca; however I am not convinced they really grasp the difference b/w aerial shooting camels in the arid outback vs the hills, trees and rocky ground of Kosciusko and the Victorian Alps. Regards, Bio-Brumby
      • Bio-Brumby almost 4 years ago
        Hi peter_mcc, Agree it is very hard to find any information on the Guy Fawkes cull 2000. Have a look at the recently posted Australian Brumby Alliance review of info recently posted on http://australianbrumbyalliance.org.au/ front page has an intro then click for more info. Regards, Bio-Brumby
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        • peter_mcc almost 4 years ago
          I had a quick skim of it - I'll have to take a longer look sometime.I think it's unfortunate that they don't offer any critique of the video contents. As said elsewhere here, "SOS News" is seemingly fairly radical and authors on their site claim the KNP can support 50000 horses without a problem. The video is inaccurate in parts and very one sided. That's fine if it's playing to their audience - but if you're trying to claim that the summary is impartial then, to me, it impacts on the impartiality of the whole review.
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          • Bio-Brumby almost 4 years ago
            Hi peter_mcc, it is always hard to separate the hype from reality. SOS can make passionate claims, but I found this video moderate by comparison. The report seems to provide information so readers can reach their own conclusions. Try comparing the video of people talking, with Hansard reports and whether RSPCA-NSW would have likely spent 18 months and $50,000 to prepare a case for the Court if they lacked conviction they would succeed. Regards, Bio-Brumby
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            • peter_mcc almost 4 years ago
              Hi Bio-Brumby, If that video from SOS is "moderate" I'd hate to see a radical one... If I look at that video/report alone then sure, the cull was a disaster. If I look at the English report it was imperfect but not too bad.All the reports of inhumane treatment seem to come from one person. All the photos in the video seem to be of horses in fairly flat open terrain - ie suitable for aerial culling. Yet the claims are repeated here and in that summary that the area is all steep, rugged & heavily forested. If that was the case then where were the photos of the dead horses taken?If the RSPCA had such a great case then why did they settle for 1 conviction? $50k isn't much to spend when lawyers are involved and the 18 months would have just been how long it took to get to court, not how long they took.My guess: they had great evidence for 1 horse (the one NPWS admitted was wandering around injured) and not so much for the rest. They got lots of "good" publicity by going along with the outrage and claiming they had info on 200+ animals. This made all the horse lovers of Australia think the RSPCA was "the best" while everyone else probably didn't care greatly beyond the news cycle.Cynical - sure. I see the same sort of thing happening with terrorism stuff lately. Huge big raids, many arrests, a few people actually charged and perhaps one convicted. I'm sure that, like in the Police, there are many many people on the RSPCA who do their best for the right reasons. I'm not convinced that politics/fundraising wouldn't influence things. Searching around for RSPCA court cases it seems I'm not the only one who thinks that sometimes they play to the public.
  • Donna almost 4 years ago
    'Humane' by its very definition, implies to be treated as a human would be. However, I'm not nearly deluded enough to believe that is the definition NPWS will be using to define their 'humane' management of these horses. I do however, expect that whatever definition they use, is not determined by financial concerns alone and that the welfare of the horses is paramount, rather than secondary.Humane treatment for animals should mean it's delivered in a way that demonstrates compassion & empathy, inflicts as little pain and distress as possible and more specifically is based on a 'do no harm' approach first and foremost. Cruelty has no place in humane treatment, just as any method that leaves an animal wounded or in pain for hours or days cannot be classified as humane. Concern for the welfare of the animal along with a level of respect is needed in order for the treatment to be deemed humane, and I do not believe this or any other facet I've mentioned is possible when using aerial culling. Above all else, I feel that in terms of managing the horses, humane treatment must include the consideration of the long term effectiveness of the method used. Aerial culling, if used, offers a very short term solution and neither provides for the future management of the remaining horses, nor the resultant impact on population dynamics.
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    • peter_mcc almost 4 years ago
      " any method that leaves an animal wounded or in pain for hours or days cannot be classified as humane"So... does that mean trapping is inhumane because sometimes animals get hurt in the traps? And some get hurt getting loaded? And some get hurt during transport?
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      • Donna almost 4 years ago
        As you've amply pointed out Peter, any method if used incorrectly can and likely will result in pain or suffering for the animal involved. Does that mean trapping is inhumane? Not at all, but it certainly can be conducted in a way that would make it so. If there are injured horses being left in traps untended for days then I would think parks should be the one answering to the lack of humaneness, not the trapping program itself.
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        • peter_mcc almost 4 years ago
          I agree (for once :-) ). And I'd like to see the same logic applied to aerial culling.
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          • Donna almost 4 years ago
            Well there you go see, miracles DO happen! ;-) I have applied the same logic Peter, hence my reasons behind believing it's sure to deliver the same results as it so famously has previously; the theory behind the procedure may be sound, but successfully completing a cull according to all code of practice conditions is a lot harder in practise. That's the problem I have with the entire method - despite all the training, the conditions or the assurances of those responsible, inevitably horses in particular end up suffering inhumanely. On paper, the process is deemed humane under certain circumstances, but it's all subjective.
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            • peter_mcc almost 4 years ago
              ohhh, now look what you've done... we don't agree any more :-(
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              • Donna almost 4 years ago
                I clicked agree ;-)
  • peter_mcc about 4 years ago
    This is a tricky one to answer - I find it hard to articulate a simple answer to what is a very complex issue. I'm sure my answer below is inadequate.To me, humane treatment (in the area of managing animals) means not causing (nearly all) the animals any more harm or stress than is reasonably required to achieve the desired outcome (be that culling or removal or something else).I think it is different to "treat them like humans" because they are not humans - that might sound trite but I was challenged elsewhere with the question "Would it bother you to see people die in the same manner that you are proposing for the horses?". In answer to that - yes, it would bother me to have humans treated the same way that horses are treated.I may get shot down for this but I think "humaneness" needs to be balanced against efficiency & cost. I would see it as a tradeoff where you can get to a certain amount of "humaneness" easily but going beyond that causes costs to rise rapidly. I don't think that the animals should be treated with no respect (even if it is really cheap). But I am also aware that feral animals of all sorts damage the park and NPWS needs to work within its budget to manage their numbers. There are lots and lots of things in the NSW State budget that could do with more money - I can't see the NPWS budget being greatly increased and so they need to do the best they can with the money available.
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    • Happy Jack about 4 years ago
      Reading the 2008 Widl Horse Management Plan, it seems to cover very well most issues raised in this discussion. Strangely, it seems to strongly conclude that airial shooting is the most practical and ultimately humane (or should it be horseane?) approach. But then, suddenly the government of the day, in the form of the Environment Minister, has banned Arial Culling in National Parks, so trapping and rehoming goes ahead instead, and we are again looking at the same issue and a much worse situation, with much higher horse numbers, 6 years later.I can only assume this was the result of sucessful lobying at the time. (as that seems to be the way politics is played).If we are not to be having this same discussion again in another six (or less) years, we need this prohibition lifted before we go any further!It is esential to quickly get the horse numbers under control. Then manage them. In this way at least there will be a chance that future horses can be treated "humanely".
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      • peter_mcc almost 4 years ago
        I'd say the ban was totally about politics and challenge any horse lover to prove otherwise.If aerial culling was so cruel that it shouldn't be used then whya) didn't he ban it in all of NSW (only in banned in National Parks)b) didn't he ban it for all animals (only banned for horses in National Parks).He saw an issue raised by a very effective publicity campaign that was effective because people think horses are special. And so he "resolved" it by banning one animal being killed by one method in one small area of the state. They have killed thousands upon thousands of feral pigs the same way - I'm sure that some didn't die immediately. Where was the feral pig lovers association to try to get it banned? Problem is nobody cares about feral pigs - I'm guessing most people would say they deserved to die.
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        • Donna almost 4 years ago
          And I as a 'horse lover' challenge you to prove it was Peter, rather than a last minute band aid solution for a massively erroneous decision that should never have been made in the first place. Politics are one thing, but if the cull had actually been successful, without the failures of which there are many pictures, I'm certain we wouldn't be having this consultation because they'd be out shooting those horses right now.
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          • peter_mcc almost 4 years ago
            Is there any evidence that the decision to ban aerial culling in NSW National Parks (only) for horses (only) was based on a concerted campaign that started before the Guy Fawkes NP cull? Or was it only in reaction to the bad publicity from the Guy Fawkes NP cull?I found a copy of the press release from the time at http://www.kbrhorse.net/news/brumby05.html. It says:-------------------Mr Debus said in keeping with community expectations, he had ruled out any future aerial culling of feral horses in national parks."A better way must be found to control these feral animal. I am determined that it will be found." he said.I accept that the heavy weight of scientific opinion is that aerial culling is, in many circumstances, an acceptable method as a last resort and that it is a method employed in a number of other states and territories."However, I have listened to the community on this issue. The close bonds between humans and horses and their place in the history of our country mean that this sort of operation is unacceptable to a great many people. -------------------Or this one from http://forum.cyberhorse.com.au/forums/showthread.php?1619-Brumbies-Small-Win----Source: AAP|Published: Thursday November 16, 12:10 PMNew South Wales today announced a permanent ban on the aerial culling of horses in national parks.The move followed the release of an interim report by Sydney University's chief veterinarian into the deaths of 617 horses in a northern NSW national park.The horses were killed in an operation conducted by the National Parks and Wildlife Service.While the report concluded the operation had been conducted humanely, Environment Minister Bob Debus said the community outrage which had followed indicated aerial culling was no longer an appropriate method of controlling feral animals.“I'm not turning my back completely on his report,” he said.Mr Debus said one criticism vet Dr Tony English had made was that local national parks staff had not, in retrospect, consulted widely enough with the community or the RSPCA.He has asked Dr English and the National Parks and Wildlife Service to propose alternative culling methods. ----Or this one from the Australian Brumby Alliance - http://australianbrumbyalliance.org.au/about/about-brumbies/new-south-wales/---In October 2000, the slaughter of over 600 brumbies in the Guy Fawkes River National Park sparked widespread public outcry and national media attention. The RSPCA condemned the cull and brought suit against the NSW Government. In response, the NSW Minister for the Environment banned aerial culling in NSW and set up an independent inquiry resulting in a plan of management of horses.---Sounds like a typical politician reacting to public outrage over an issue and proposing a limited solution to appease the people making their life difficult. All those quotes attributing the descision to "community outrage" over the Guy Fawkes NP cull are from "pro horse" sites. No matter how "determined" Mr Debus was it seems that there isn't a better way to control large numbers of feral horses that aerial culling. The result has been a trapping operation that can't keep up with the population growth and makes expensive dog food.One thing I think we both agree on is the second part - if the Guy Fawkes NP cull had been successful then horse management in KNP wouldn't be in the mess it is in now. I'm going to say it is a shame that, as usual, one bad group has stuffed it up for everyone. You probably won't agree..
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            • Donna almost 4 years ago
              They're all great examples of the anger and outrage people felt after the GF cull, and given the result I'd say it was well founded. However, I think the crux of it is more in line with the quote given from the ABA site, particularly this part - "The RSPCA condemned the cull and brought suit against the NSW Government. In response, the NSW Minister for the Environment banned aerial culling in NSW and set up an independent inquiry resulting in a plan of management of horses." I'm more inclined to believe it was a combination of both a reaction to public opinion and a consequence of condemnation from the RSPCA, which I might add speaks volumes, as does the fact that people still talk about the horror of it all 14 years later...How sad it took the death of over 600 horses for NPWS to establish a plan of management.I disagree entirely with your last comment - as is the case in KNP, a cull in GF was destined to fail and as such teaches us only one thing - not to repeat the same mistake twice.
  • The longer we wait... about 4 years ago
    To me humane treatment of animals means give them all the chances that can be afforded for a pleasant life, but anything done to disturb them must be quickly and painlessly. Of course quick is relative. And painless is impossible.So give them every chance at a pleasant survival, and when necessary to intervene do it as quickly and as painlessly as possible.AND, my main bug bear, do it quickly (do it yesterday) so fewer and not more require intervention. Because the longer we wait the more horses there are to be reduced. And this is not at all fair to the animals.