What should the goal of the new management plan for wild horses be and why?

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.

The current Wild Horse Management Plan for Kosciuszko National Park has been in place since 2008. 

Should the existing objectives stay in place? Should there be new ones? Tom Bagnat from NPWS outlines the purposes of the plan and activities currently in place. 

THIS DISCUSSION WAS OPEN FOR 14 DAYS AND CLOSED ON 28 SEPTEMBER.


The objectives of the existing plan are detailed on page 3 and page 30 of the plan and are detailed as follows:

• to exclude horses from 
  • the Main Range Management Unit; 
  • the Yarrangobilly Management Unit; 
  • the Cooleman Plain Management Unit; 
  • safety risk areas such as highways; 
  • areas of the park where horses have not been or have only recently been 
  • recorded (e.g. Jagungal); 
  • areas of the park adjoining other Australian Alps national parks and 
  • reserves; and 
  • feeder areas for all of these parts of the park.  
• to reduce horse numbers in other specific areas to reduce the risk they pose. 
These areas would be where horses have an impact on public safety, the 
environment or on the cultural heritage of the Park 

• to make sure that all horses are treated humanely throughout the removal process 
and their removal complies with current Codes of Practice

youngconservationist over 3 years ago
The goal has to be the removal of a feral animal that is impacting on biodiversity and ecosystem function. Not containment, not buffering of impacts. If this is not the aim of management why did we bother establishing Kosciusko National Park in the first place? Could have left for farmers to overgraze.
Bandicoot over 3 years ago
We need to recognise that sustainable numbers of Brumbys is undeniably a part of overall management of KNP. Re: Spagnam Moss- What we are seeing now is the horses are forced to feed in the boggy gullies because they cannot access the feeding grounds - why? Because of the re-growth of native saplings due to 2003 bush fires. Also, when vechile tracks are developed (especially crossings) the natural water flow is altered to some degree, forcing the animals to either side of the colvert to drink - making a messSafety: Roads-Ask the local panel beaters and see what their stats are for vechiles damaged by critters??? Is the Brumby mentioned? (Other then logging trucks on SM highway, but that's another discussion...) also, what attracts horses to the sides of roads? Fresh green grass that grows after councils slash. Salt - used by RMS to melt ice. All critters (including natives) crave salt in their diets.Brumbys can be utilised as a management tool within KNP. It is evident post 2003 fires that not all areas of KNP were damaged. Why? Because the large herbivores (ie brumbies) had grazed those areas and the fire could not travel across that area due to lack of fuel - also, their pads are a natural firebreak for a slow burning ground fire. Are these animals not beneficial to 'protecting KNP'? These are just a couple of examples. Horse riders and bush users ARE CONSERVATIONISTS ourselves. We want to see this land protected also. We understand how fragile this land is too. We want to see it protected for generations to come as well! What we want to be understood is that the brumbies, the huts, and even how and why these localities are named and why they were named as such is OUR HERITAGE! Without the Brumbies there in the mountains, our last link to those lands is lost... The goal of the program needs to acknowledge the past history, agree on sustainable numbers and let the mountain horseman access lands to manage their horses how they always did. Through true horsemanship skill and bush craft.
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youngconservationist over 3 years ago
"We need to recognise that sustainable numbers of Brumbys is undeniably a part of overall management of KNP". No we don't. And if we do, the very reason why National Parks are established is totally undermined. Feral pest species have no place in National Parks, regardless of how pretty some people regard them. Just as sustainable numbers of cane toads are not part of the management of Kakadu National Park just because someone somewhere finds them pretty.
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Donna over 3 years ago
Yes, we do. To attempt the management of KNP without accepting their presence is pure foolishness. They've existed in the AREA for over a century, long before 'the powers that be' even thought of declaring it a National Park. Pretending after so long that we can simply decide they don't belong there won't make it so.One has to wonder at the wisdom in declaring it a park in the first place, given the fact their presence at the time was widely known, even if numbers were much lower than they are today, their effects were not considered to be a factor or even a reason for any control measures.
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youngconservationist over 3 years ago
Whatever the wisdom it is a National Park now, and as I have said several times that has clear definitions which require control of pest species. Future generations will be thankful some forward thinking people decide to try and perceive something of Australians natural heritage. There are enough farms to admire horses.
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Bio-Brumby over 3 years ago
Hi Youngconservationist, Pests are defined as a destructive insect or other animal that attacks crops, food, and livestock. In my view Brumbies to not attack, they co-exist within their established environment. That said, an overabundance of anything can affect the ecology's resilience, ability to recover from transitory impacts. My desire is to have Brumby numbers managed within sustainable limits so those who value the Brumby as cultural heritage, and those who value a park that retains current bio-diversity can both enjoy what the park offers. We should be aiming for a balance, in line with The national park act which makes a point of conserving both nature and cultural values. Regards, Bio-Brumby
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youngconservationist over 3 years ago
'Primary objective: To protect natural biodiversity along with its underlying ecological structure and supporting environmental processes, and to promote education and recreation.' - IUCN definition for National Park. If cultural values threaten biodiversity and ecosystem services (which in this case they clearly do) then biodiversity wins. This is not my opinion its law. Just because culture is mentioned does not mean it has equal weight. Plus your definition of culture refers to only a small window of European settlement. Not the vast majority of human culture in these areas. And as a Australian of European decent, I share no cultural connection to exotic horses, but a huge connection to the native species and landscapes of Australia.
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Bio-Brumby over 3 years ago
Hi Youngconservationist, As I read the Act, there are 4 stand-alone objectives. The first one which you rightly point out focuses on the conservation of nature. However that objectives states that the objectives listed in Part 1, 2A, (1) states The objectives of the Act are as follows: (a) the conservation of nature, including, BUT NOT LIMITED TO. the conservation of ................The second objective (b) is a standalone and shows the importance the Act places 'cultural value within the landscape', including, but not limited to 'places of social value to the people of NSW.... My proposal is that Brumbies are a major social value to many people in NSW, though not all. Regards, Bio-Brumby
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youngconservationist over 3 years ago
Its a second objective. I think you will find when cultural values clash with conservation values, the Act has to uphold biodiversity values. So either you try and prove Brumbies do not cause impacts to biodiversity, which I thought was proven beyond a doubt until I saw the climate skeptic type logic being applied to the issue by various commentators in this forum, or assist National Parks in removing Brumbies or at least keeping to numbers down to 50 or so. .
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Bio-Brumby over 3 years ago
Hi Youngconservationist, It may be the second objective, but it is not subject to any part of the Act, it is a standalone objective, so as I understand of equal stature to all the Act objectives. As in my view Brumbies through their grazing, as did Australia's mega fauna, add to bio-diversity. Maybe we have to agree to disagree. Regards, Bio-Brumby
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youngconservationist over 3 years ago
National Park are also recognized under international law, and its clear there, that culture is a second class citizen. But anyway I am almost positive objectives have weights under Australian law also. Anyway why is your culture allows to outweigh everyone else's, including indigenous culture going back thousand of years? So I'll use scientific research showing impacts of horses and cattle on high country, plus 10 years of my own study on native grazers, and we will call it even? Sounds fair. I know you won't change your mind, just like many climate skeptics won't. But that does not make our views equal.
youngconservationist over 3 years ago
Co-exist? The ecological definition of coexistence would not at all support this for Brumbies. They are leading to decline of native species, and loss of ecological niches which species occupy (e.g. spagnum bogs). Competitive exclusion perhaps. Not coexistence. They co-occur not co-exist.
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Bio-Brumby over 3 years ago
Hi Youngconservationist, Based on the definition of 'To co-exist is ‘to live in the same place, at the same time, with another.' I would say that coexistence does support Brumbies. This is exactly what has happened over the past 200 years. In terms of 'competitive exclusion' I would ask, what KNP species has become extinct as a direct result of a Brumby presence. Regards, Bio-Brumby
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youngconservationist over 3 years ago
Its not the ecological meaning of co-exist as I understand and we are talking about ecology. Umm running the unless it has caused a species to become extinct it is had no impact is pretty ridiculous.The cane toad has wiped out frogs, mammals and reptiles from so many places, but I don't think has caused a extinction event yet. So cane toads ok? I would prefer not to wait until extinction has occurred before acting. Just my person view, and clear objective under NP managment. This whole discussion is hurting my brain.
Bio-Brumby over 3 years ago
Hi Youngconservationsit, The act makes a point of conserving both nature and cultural values; therefore we need to retain a reasonable balance of Brumby heritage in the environment they have co-existed with for over 200 years, they are an intergral part of many Australian cultural values, not sure cane toads can claim the same cultural value, if so I have not found it. Regards, Bio-Brumby
youngconservationist over 3 years ago
how they always did? For 200 years you mean. The last 10,000 years or so of human history belongs to aboriginal management in which there were no horses. Should Japanese be allowed to whale because they once did this?
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Bio-Brumby over 3 years ago
Hi Youngconservationist, the Australian continent landscape has existed for millions of years. When does a new factor entering the equation become 'Native”? Mega fauna existed well before the Aboriginal people arrived, and disappeared soon after their arrival. Europeans arrived 200 plus years ago and shifted nature’s dynamics again. In terms of evolution, horses could well replace the bio-diversity benefits lost when Mega Fauna disappeared from the landscape, though Brumbies weigh less than many of the Mega fauna animals. Food for thought. Regards, Bio-Brumby
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youngconservationist over 3 years ago
Clearly they don't replace the role of soft footed large marsupials as they have destroyed landscape features (sphagnum bogs) that have existed for thousands of years. Something becomes naturalized when it is considered to be part of ecological function, and does not continue to wipe out native species. Dingo are argued to be naturalized. Horses are not. Show me evidence (not opinions) they enhance ecological function, show me when they are removed loss of ecological function occurs, show me they don't do damage? Show me anything that suggests they are beneficial to the National Park? And please don't even try the grazing stops blazing lie. You could argue rabbits and foxes also part of these ecosystems if horses are. So do we not control rabbits and foxes? We can just recreate Europe.. awesome. Can I ask if you get upset when dingo's are controlled in National Parks? They are far more part of the culture of this place, and not just a European-centric farming view of culture.
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Donna over 3 years ago
Once again, you generalise about "wiping out native species", and yet the brumbies have never done so, in nigh on 200 years?? Nor have any native flora become extinct. How then are they not considered to be part of the ecological function of the park? I'd ask you for the same evidence to support your claims.
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youngconservationist over 3 years ago
So until species are made extinct you ca not claim impact? That's a scary path to take. If we protect one sphagnum bog, one corroboree frog then we are ok? Could you answer the dingo question? I think we are seeing a clear European farming bias in responses, and ideas of culture. .
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Donna over 3 years ago
No, you just can't go around claiming brumbies are responsible for "wiping out native species".
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youngconservationist over 3 years ago
If feral horses graze out an area leading to loss of reptiles from that area they are wiping out species. If they destroy a waterhole leading to loss of frogs and invertebrates from that area then they are wiping out native species.
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Donna over 3 years ago
But there are no losses attributable to the horses. It's all a case of 'If' and after so many years, more a case of 'not likely'.
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youngconservationist over 3 years ago
So unless someones specifically studies impacts of horse grazing on specific animals, in a specific area and shows conclusively that animal was lost then horses have no impact? Studies in North America have shown horse impacts on reptiles - does that count? Its obvious from photos they are impacting vegetation and streams, plus its only logical to assume that given horses eat grass, and we know overgrazing from studies all over Australia impact many species, that horses are impacting species! Under the precautionary principal (which guides decisions on conservation) the burden of proof would be on the horse lovers to prove that horses have no impact. This is because you being wrong could permanently damage an ecosystem, whereas me and being wrong would just mean decline in horses numbers in one spot in Australia. So you show me the research that shows no impact of horses. Until then get horses out of the park.
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Donna over 3 years ago
No need to wait until an animal is lost, but you're getting the general idea ;) As there is no peer reviewed research on the subject in our country, I believe it's not only imperative but an obligation of NPWS to do so, especially prior to concluding that aerial culling is needed.
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youngconservationist over 3 years ago
No its not. Its your job to prove they don't if you want horses to trample about over our natural heritage. The onus of proof is on the people who are trying to prevent controlling of a threat. Please look up precautionary principle and you will realize NPWS have to control horses. As far as evidence please read this - Ecological and human dimensions of management of feral horses in Australia: a review - this paper outlines impacts of feral horses on plants,soil, birds, reptiles. No amount of evidence will convince you otherwise anyway, you are just trying to hide behind it. Even if overwhelming evidence came in you would just hide behind something else.
Donna over 3 years ago
You may be interested to know that Indigenous history is intertwined quite closely with that of the Brumby in a lot of areas and tribes such as the Wiradjuri, as far back as the mid to late eighteen hundreds.
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youngconservationist over 3 years ago
"The traditional lifestyles of the local Aborigines, including the annual Bogong moth feast, were disrupted from the late 1820s when graziers brought stock into the area and are considered to have ceased by 1850 in this and nearby bioregions (HO and DUAP 1996). Diseases brought in by the new settlers infected Aboriginal communities, diminishing their population in this bioregion and across NSW (HO and DUAP 1996)."
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Donna over 3 years ago
And brumbies were considered 'extinct' in NSW between 1920 - 1940, your point is?? Regardless of any impacts caused by European settlement, the relationship between our brumbies and Indigenous people still existed, almost famously so. Denying their right to be seen as part of our culture and heritage simply because they haven't existed for millions of years prior to settlement is to deny the right of every modern day Caucasian to call themselves Australian.
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youngconservationist over 3 years ago
Caucasian? woh. The plight of small proportion of Australian farmers that grazed certain areas at certain times of the year tells us nothing about Australian Culture to me, maybe it does to you, buts that's your value system not mine. Although the role of feral horses in past grazing practices is unclear to me. Alpine cattle grazers have more chance of claiming culture than feral horses do. Anyway National Parks are not museums to Australian farming practices.They are there to protect biodiversity. This is not my opinion, this is the legal framework of National Parks - "Primary objective: To protect natural biodiversity along with its underlying ecological structure and supporting environmental processes, and to promote education and recreation."
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Donna over 3 years ago
It may well be that your "value system" prevents you from being able to recognise the culture others consider important...I think they call that narcissism! As for National Parks not being "museums to Australian farming practices" I wonder about that, I wonder why there is significant historical value to be found in a brumby trapping yard used in the 1800's, yet the horses themselves have no value, historical or otherwise?
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youngconservationist over 3 years ago
Its not my value system its the definition of a National Park. I recognize your view of culture, its just not my view. And either way has nothing to do with a National Park if cultural value are impacting natural heritage. Answer me this. Is it ok for a traditional owners o release dingos onto farms near Kosciusko? Is it ok if dingos from the National Parks to occasionally venture onto farms? Do farmers kill dingos in these situation, or do hey recognize the cultural value of dingos to the first Australians? Dingos share a cultural connection going back thousands of years. How is this any different to horses?
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Donna over 3 years ago
The answers to your questions are concerning control, and we're here to decide how best to achieve that with the horses. Controlling a threat or impact is different to wiping it from existence.
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youngconservationist over 3 years ago
existence? You mean presence from a small geographic area designated National Park I think. Horses can exist outside the 10% of Australia set aside for protection of natural heritage! Pretty sure NPWS are not trying to remove horses from Australia. The goal of controlling threats is eradication when its achievable. They eradicated rabbits form Macquarie island, surely they could do close to that with horses if people stopped inserting there own cultural values on Park management. To say you are here to discuss control of a threat is pretty disingenuous. You are here to try and ensure as many horses remain as possible.
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Donna over 3 years ago
Whether you find my assertions disingenuous is neither here nor there, the fact is this discussion is about management and control is one of the factors of that, quite obviously. Eradication is not always the goal of control measures, nor should it be. You may wish for a world where NPWS make decisions unilaterally about a park designed for the use of all Australians, but I do not. Thus, I find it imperative as many people as possible "insert their own cultural values" on Park management. It is after all, a NATIONAL Park.
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youngconservationist over 3 years ago
I want a world where National Parks is free to manage according to it primary objective - protection of natural heritage. I world without special interests groups trying to insert their values on a place which already has clear objectives - protection of natural heritage. But alas quoting National Park definitions will get me no where. Nor does asking the dingo onto farms under 'culture' seem to be getting me an answer.
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Bio-Brumby over 3 years ago
Hi Youngconservationist, As I read the Act, there are 4 stand-alone objectives. There is no primary objective. The first focuses on the conservation of nature. However that objectives states that the objectives listed in Pert 1, 2A, (1) states The objectives of the Act are as follows: (a) the conservation of nature, including, BUT NOT LIMITED TO. the conservation of ................The second objective (b) is a standalone and shows the importance the Act places 'cultural value within the landscape', including, but not limited to 'places of social value to the people of NSW.... Therefore National Parks is responsible to manage according to all the Act objectives, not just the one you identify. re dingoes, what is the benefit you are proposing to have 'culture' dingoes on a farm, interesting thought. Regards, Bio-Brumby
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youngconservationist over 3 years ago
I like dingos and see them as my cultural heritage. So why can't I have them. The fact dingos in NP are managed is ridiculous given NPWS seem to be prevented from managing horses which are a pest, are not native and have little if any relationship to culture. I'll state it again, but I guess its pointless - biodiversity values trump culture under definitions of a National Park. Kosciusko is classified as a category two protected area - 'National Park' which primary aim (i.e. supersedes following aims) is to protect natural heritage. Anyway the connection between culture and feral horses is a drawing a short bow indeed. If aboriginal culture is linked to native species given thousands of years of history, why does your recent white farming culture trump theirs? I hope when you are not fighting to keep feral horses around, you are campaigning for allowing Japanese to kill whales in the name of their culture.
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Donna over 3 years ago
Wow, no need for the melodrama lol. NPWS are not being prevented from managing the horses, there are management processes in place, though I won't argue their effectiveness. You can however argue the Act all day long but it will always come down to the fact your definition of 'Natural heritage' does not include brumbies, and mine does.
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youngconservationist over 3 years ago
The definition of natural heritage does not include exotic animals. That's not an opinion that's fact. Oh my god. The more I communicate on this the more I feel sorry for NPWS and what they have to deal with.
youngconservationist over 3 years ago
dingo answer?
youngconservationist over 3 years ago
Answer me this. Is it ok for a traditional owners to release dingos onto farms near Kosciusko? Is it ok if dingos from the National Parks to occasionally venture onto farms? Do farmers kill dingos in these situation, or do hey recognize the cultural value of dingos to the first Australians? Dingos share a cultural connection going back thousands of years.
Mbidgee over 3 years ago
I think the objectives are generally good, but a bit vague when it comes to "feeder areas". Its now time to use cost-efficient humane methods to fulfill the objectives, and aerial shooting appears to be the only reliable method to reduce numbers quickly and effectively. I do not see any objective "to eradicate feral horses" because that is unrealistic objective, but it seems that those who want to see some horses remain think that effective control will mean total elimination, and that is not correct.
Bio-Brumby over 3 years ago
Three responses on Tom Bagnet’s film comments and the present park horse objectives;1 - I am unclear why parks wish to exclude horses from areas of the park adjoining other Alps national parks? Tom wants to control impacts, how does a park area border relate to impacts? 2 - Agree feeder areas need further explanation, including why they are considered a problem and how they areas are defined, and3 – Tom states exclusion zones show the land can regenerate when horses are excluded. The growth I have seen within an exclusion zone contains 1-2 meter high tough old dry growth, defined by NPWS staff as Bio-mass, while outside the zones where horses graze, was defined as bio-diversity. When I asked if the unchecked growth within the zone was Parks preference, the answer was no. To me the exclusion zones in fact demonstrate the benefits of grazing and how it increases bio-diversity. Regards, Bio-Brumby
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GrantH over 3 years ago
BioBrumby you do raise some valid queries in your comments, and I think a lot of it may be not understanding the jargon. From my understanding I will answer these queries.1- Australia has a very small alpine area, and so it is a very unique environment. I am so glad that our previous leaders had the wisdom to gazette it as national park so long ago. Because it is such a rare and fragile ecosystem the managers would like to do the best they can to protect it. That's starts by removing threat (eg Horses) and then reducing the chance of a preventable threat. The best way to prevent a threat, is to create a buffer zone to keep them away.2 - Feeder areas are well described in chapter 7. here is my interpretation: A feeder area is basically the area that horse travel through to get to the exclusion area. If you can discourage them from walking that way they will stay away from the exclusion area.3- Bio-mass is actually a measurement term that can apply to many things. bare dirt has no bio-mass, short grass that has been fed on has a low bio-mass, long grass browned off has a high biomass, dense regrowth of trees and shrubs has a high biomass. While 1m+ 'dry-growth' is not the desired outcome (I'm assuming its just 1 or 2 grass species you are talking about), it is a better outcome than bare ground, erosion and soil compaction. It may take 5-10 years of growth cycles before the bio-diversity is returned. I'd suggest the horses grazing the land has reduced diversity over time, and now there are a few species which have rapid growth and dominate the exclusion area, while the other slower growing vegetation has suffered from trampling and being eaten and is now no longer present. These area still needs significant rehabilitation to regain the bio-diversity that once existed.
youngconservationist over 3 years ago
Grazing at high levels does not increase biodiversity, it dramatically reduces it. This is especially in Australian Alpine areas, where historically (pre-European) grazing was light. Evidence for this occurs throughout scientific literature. I would be interested if you could find a single paper that shows high grazing increases native diversity in Australia?
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Themba over 3 years ago
Sorry but what evidence do you have of high levels of grazing in the park? If that were true you wouldn't see those lovely pictures of the park on this very web site.
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youngconservationist over 3 years ago
I feel this is like is like trying to convince a climate skeptic of evidence. But I'll try. It took me 10 minutes to find 4 studies 1.. Long-Term Vegetation Change in Relation to Cattle Grazing in Sub-Alpine Grassland and Heathland on the Bogong High-Plains: an Analysis of Vegetation Records From 1945 to 1994. 2. Recovery of Alpine Vegetation from Grazing and Drought: Data from Long-term Photoquadrats in Kosciuszko National Park, Australia. 3. Effects of Rabbit Grazing and Fire on a Sub-Alpine Environment .I. Herbaceous and Shrubby Vegetation (you said grazing). 4. A thousand years of environmental change and human impact in the alpine zone at Mt Kosciusko, New South Wales.
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youngconservationist over 3 years ago
How can you click 'disagree' to published scientific evidence? Its not an opinion.
youngconservationist over 3 years ago
"If that were true you wouldn't see those lovely pictures of the park on this very web site." So because there are nice places left there is no impact? So until nothing is left we can not act? And by the way, a nice photo does not necessary mean an intact ecosystem. I could find 4 studies in 10 minutes, you refer to a photo. But no amount of evidence will change your mind.
Nan over 3 years ago
I strongly support removal of horses from Kosciusko and other national parks because of the damage they are doing to native vegetation, creeks, wetlands. Over decades I have observed their impacts first hand. It is not sustainable. Certainly the removal should be humane but that should include shooting by experts. The current methods are ineffective in terms of protecting the natural environment.
Rob over 3 years ago
Due to the major damage being done by feral horses in the Snowy Mountains, we should be aiming to remove them all in a humane and effective way.
youngconservationist over 3 years ago
My personal views aside, National Parks are under legal obligation to protect natural heritage. Horses are clearly damaging natural values and therefore must be removed. Not fenced out of a few areas, not kept a low numbers, completely removed! Surely there is potential for National Parks to be sued, or have protected area status under the IUCN removed, if they don't act as proper stewards of these special natural places. Obviously, the trained, intelligent and caring staff within National Parks do want to act and are being gagged by Government. But I would have thought environmental law was clear on this. No room for special interest groups. Otherwise the lunatics will be running the asylum.
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Bio-Brumby over 3 years ago
Hi Youngconservationsit, It seems to me NSW legislation balances conserving nature with conserving cultural values. The second and third objectives of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 (NSW) focus on conserving cultural value within the landscape. I agree too much of anything, including humans, is problematic and requires management. However national Parks are for ALL Australians to value, experience and enjoy. This includes people who love bush walking, spiritual uplifting, Aboriginal history and post settlement cultural heritage. The act makes a point of conserving both nature and cultural values; therefore we need to retain a reasonable balance of Brumby heritage in the environment they have co-existed with for over 200 years. For my spiritual uplifting, solace and pleasure, our National Parks represent a wild, untamed environment that Brumbies are very much a part of. No comment on lunatics....Regards Bio-Brumby
Themba over 3 years ago
Wow, lets calm down a little perhaps. If you really want to save the park then you should be directing your efforts towards keeping all the hordes of people out rather than worrying about any damage the horse may be causing! Just my opinion.
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youngconservationist over 3 years ago
I agree with managing human impact also. But this forum is on management of feral horses.
Natives_rule over 3 years ago
Removal of feral horses from as many areas as possible is essential to stop the destruction of this unique alpine environment. It would be nice to think that in the future I can visit and not see as much damage and environmental destruction caused by feral horses.
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Themba over 3 years ago
I think it would be nice to visit the park in the future and not see the damage done by so many people visiting the park each and every year. Any damage done by the horses is far outweighed by the damage done to the park so far by humans! Just look at the damage the Snowy Hydro project caused and that the park is still trying to recover from.
Zelig over 3 years ago
The immediate objective should be the exclusion of horses from the areas listed in the existing plan of management. The longer term objective should be the elimination of feral horses from the Park completely. This is the only objective that is consistent with the long term ecological viability of the Park. The horses are an unfortunate accident of our pastoral history. They do not represent heritage values. They are not an attraction to tourists rather they are now widely seen as a negative in respect of the area. The widespread damage that they cause is seen as reflecting a failure of policy commitment.
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HVBA Vice President over 3 years ago
You obviously missed my comment from a previous post, but have a read of this paper and you will understand why complete removal is unrealistic in this case. http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/3782799?uid=3737536&uid=2&uid=4&sid=21104609427663. If you read the other discussion board about "what do the wild horses mean to you" you will see that many people come to the park to see them as a tourist attraction, and would be devastated if they were no longer there. As for the "widespread damage" I would love if you could provide some evidence for this, no one has been able to provide any so far, despite my constant requests and I would love to know how this became such a widespread belief.
Bio-Brumby over 3 years ago
Hi Zelig, saying horses do not represent heritage value is presumable your view - It would be preferable to recognise that many in the community & this chat room, do have a view they represent heritage value. The same goes for the global statement that horses are not an attraction to tourists as it does not acknowledge many in the community value visiting KNP to see the horses. This forum debate can accommodate all views, no matter how much it is hard to recognise a different view point does exist. Regards, Bio-Brumby
jrw over 3 years ago
The new goal should be the removal of the feral horse problem from the Park, quickly and efficiently. The old goal was a good start, time to expand that.
Bio-Brumby over 3 years ago
Tom Bagnet says to manage impacts. I’d add that impacts per species (including humans) must be quantified, and matched with a landscape’s tolerance to those species, exclusion areas, may only work if they can be physically separated from all ‘threat’ species. Therefore my suggestion for goals/strategies for a KNP plan would be;1. Maintain (all species) populations at quantified, sustainable levels that enable the ecosystem’s resilience to both absorb and re-organise while undergoing change,2. Improve road safety by (a) Avoiding management practices that attract animals to main roads, such as replace salt with other ice reducing options used overseas, (b) lower speed signs as used overseas, and (c) Educate the public to not aggravate or feed animals and how to respect sensitivities such as foaling times,3. Manage the environment by ongoing monitoring & plan effectiveness reviews, 4. Reduce trap costs by partnering with relevant skilled locals,5. Highlight the historic social heritage of Aboriginal & post-settlement Australians by which I mean recognise the heritage of sustainable Brumbies living wild in KNP, and6. Treat animals humanely throughout any removal process and ensure relevant Codes of Practice are followed. Regards, Bio-Brumby
Mountain Man over 3 years ago
I dont have a problem with the objectives with the plan except the "feeder" areas. This is intentionally very vague where any area will become a feeder area as it suits the park and can end in eradication. It needs to be black and white. The powers that be should firstly acknowledge that there was never a need for a horse management plan until the last decade or so because the local horsemen kept the numbers maintained. The local horsemen should be allowed to do this again. They will do this as vollunteers at NO cost to the taxpayers as they have for 150 years because it is their culture and their heritage. They are horse lovers and they love their mountains. This could be done under a licencing system so that the horsemen need to be accredited and approved by equine vets and welfare specialists to carry out this job. This way the horses can be targeted and removed in their say batchelor groups for example so as to not disturbed the family herds, mares and foals etc. Give these guys a little credit, they are the experts. Of course there are yobbos in all aspects of life who do the wrong thing but there are also people who do the right thing and know better than any others how to do it.
Adrian p over 3 years ago
I think the objectives above sound fine. Exclusion from sensitive areas, sustainable numbers determined by science and research in traditional areas. One big stumbling block is cost for humane removal and one idea that I think is great is to adopt a whole of industry approach regarding the horses. By that I mean to put responsibility for the welfare of these horses onto those who love them. There is no shortage of money in the horse racing industry, so if millions can be found to be spent on the yearling sales then some sort of levy could be applied to save the wild brumbies. Similarly a market must be created for the rescued animals, perhaps by making it illegal to breed horses without being a registered breeder. As I understand it there are too many unwanted farm horses as well. So in summary- objectives are good, and for the expensive rehoming solution to the excess numbers look outside the NPWS budget for funding and ask the very wealthy horse racing industry to chip in.
HVBA Vice President over 3 years ago
In my mind it should be simple. With horse welfare always the most important consideration, manage these horses to a sustainable level. Remove them from wilderness areas if needs, but you will need to fence them out once this happens or you will be forever chasing your tail. Set a target, choose the most appropriate methods to meet this target, reassess to make sure its working, research, research research. The last management plan spoke about this sort of follow up research, and to my knowledge none of it has happened. This needs to change. Targets need to be set so that parks are accountable for their work, otherwise it is like writing a blank cheque. I assume the current costing include the cost of the fabulous new yards, why should these go to waste. The cost per horse for trapping will surely go down now that these are in place. Passive trapping is a good management tool and should continue, but maybe it needs to be combined with some others such as fertility control. Ground shooting methods shouldalso be discussed to ensure any horses that need to be euthanised can be done so humanely. There should also be a target for rehoming and some guidelines to ensure this is done appropriately. The entire program should be more targeted, there is research out there, use it. "Managers that target adults (survival or removal) in any control measure will yield the most significant result, followed by fertility control then targeting 0-3 year olds. This is because the rate of increase of the wild horse populations were most sensitive to changes in adult survival. The next most influential parameter is fecundity, which has half the weighting of adult survival. Survival in the first 3 years of life has less influence receiving only 1/5th the weighting of adult survival, and age of first reproduction had a negligible effect on population growth rate". http://theaustralianalps.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/feral-horses.pdf. One thing the management plan should never do is put budget constraints above animal welfare. If we can't do it right, we shouldn't do it at all.
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HVBA Vice President over 3 years ago
This probably should have gone in the other discussion on numbers v impacts, but it is now closed (I'm still not sure of the point in closing them) and I only found it this morning. http://www.acera.unimelb.edu.au/materials/brochures/SDM-AustraliasPestAnimals.pdf This is a really good bit of reading, there are some points in there I think people often forget, and this is a big one:"The mere presence of a pest animal does not mean it is causing sufficiently significant damage to justify its management ahead of other land management priorities. It is important to clarify actual versus perceived impacts — the recently developed PESTPLAN manual (Braysher and Saunders 2003) provides guidance on this. It is also necessary to determine the relationship between pest density and damage, to identify when pests need to be controlled and the level of management resources that are cost-effective."
Themba over 3 years ago
The goal should be to manage the current numbers in a humane manner. Passive trapping and rehoming should be the focus of the management plan along with identifying why the horses are moving into areas where they were not previously found. Is this due to the encroachment of people on their territory pushing them into new areas? Increasingly high numbers of people are visiting the park, is this having a negative effect on how the horses are living and bringing them into contact with people more often? Should people be excluded from areas where the horses are known to roam?The horses are a valuable tourist attraction for the park and should be managed in a humane manner. Killing the horses indiscriminately will break up family groups and leave young foals to starve. People pay large amounts of money to see the horses living in the wild and will be quickly turned off by seeing dead horses lying on the ground.
nf74 over 3 years ago
Given the community attachment to the brumbies in the Australian Alps, it seems that a reduction in horse numbers to a sustainable level is the best way to go. A sustainable level might include exclusion from sensitive areas, and reduction of population numbers in other areas to a number that can be retained by annual population management practices. Aerial surveys and population experts will guide what this number is. It is important to establish the required population number before assessing the method of control to ensure that the control/management methods used are effective. This will include assessing how to increase the number of horses removed/destroyed, given the population is growing despite NPWS efforts to manage it. Reassessment of costs allocated to the management program may be required to allow for effective methods, such as veterinary presence when culling is required, to ensure that operators are supervised and protected under animal welfare legislation.Removal of horses that are not destroyed, eg re-homing, needs to ensure that the emotion involved in "saving" a wild horse does not result in horses ending up in inappropriate homes, and being recycled through saleyards or neglected when pasture becomes low and feed becomes expensive. Better to destroy them on-site then allow for potential suffering, even if the intentions are good. I am happy to discuss this further.