The NSW government has finalised its plans to remove more than 10,000 wild horses from the Kosciuszko National Park to protect at-risk native wildlife.
Opinion on the management of brumbies in the park has been divided, with some arguing the horses should be saved and others wanting the park to be completely stripped of them.
Environment Minister Matt Kean said after more than 4000 public submissions, the government has landed on a final sustainable* population of 3000 horses by June 30, 2027.
Mr Kean said the plan would provide protection for numerous threatened species and important alpine and subalpine ecosystems* that live within the park.
“Based on consultation with scientific and community representatives, Aboriginal stakeholders and over 4000 public submissions, we can finally deliver a clear direction for one of the most special environments anywhere in the country,” he said.
It’s understood that the government will aim to rehome most of the removed horses but others will be euthanised*.
Monaro MP John Barilaro backed the plan, which he said had “been years in the making.”
“This final plan gives everybody certainty by delivering a way to manage a sustainable population of wild horses in only very select areas of the park, but more importantly it recognises their important heritage value for future generations,” he said.
Wild horses will remain in 32 per cent of the park and be removed from 21 per cent of the area. The remaining 47 per cent of the park is already free of horses and will be kept that way.
The management plan was prepared in accordance with the Kosciuszko Wild Horse Heritage Act 2018 and is publicly available from the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.
Striking the balance between protecting the park’s flora and fauna while upholding the heritage value of wild horses is complex. Brumbies are an introduced species and the negative environmental impact of wild horses has been formally recognised by the listing of habitat degradation* and loss by feral horses as a key threat in the NSW Biodiversity* Conservation Act 2016.
There is strong scientific evidence that wild horses damage the park’s fragile environment. Impacts include trampling fragile ecosystems, eroding waterways and destroying key habitat for threatened species such as the northern and southern corroboree frogs, the smoky mouse, the broad-toothed rat, stocky galaxias fish and significant alpine and subalpine ecosystems.
The issue has historically created tension and controversy between competing interest groups and brumbies have long been mythologised* in Australian literature, poetry and film.
The newly released management plan indicates that the brumbies will continue to occupy areas within Kosciuszko National Park that have “the strongest links to wild horse heritage* values and are areas with connections to historic pastoralism*, brumby running and include wild horses derived from historic pastoral populations like the Kiandra greys”.
Removing the wild horses from designated areas and reducing the overall population is intended to provide effective protection for many threatened species.
Annual surveys of the wild horse population will monitor progress and implementation is expected to begin immediately, with the reintroduction of passive trapping* and rehoming.
- sustainable: manageable, able to be maintained over time
- ecosystem: a distinct community of organisms and their environment interacting together
- euthanised: to put down an animal humanely
- degradation: deterioration in environment quality
- biodiversity: the variety of all living things, including plants, animals and micro organisms
- mythologised: having an idealised image or narrative of something created and promoted
- heritage: cultural legacy of past generations
- pastoralism: practice and history of grazing and herding livestock
- passive trapping: enables the capture of horses with minimal interference from humans
- What number of horses has been deemed sustainable within Kosciuszko National Park?
- What percentage of the park is already free of horses?
- What percentage of the park will the brumbies continue to occupy?
- How many public submissions were received as part of the community consultation process?
- What are three negative impacts caused by the presence of wild horses in the park?
LISTEN TO THIS STORY
1. Rehoming advertisement
Design a poster for rehoming the wild brumbies from the Kosciuszko National Park. Make your poster informative and persuasive so that people might consider taking in one of these wild horses.
Detail what sort of environment you would need to take in some of the brumbies and what care they would need. Also mention how they’d be helping to save the brumbies from being euthanised.
Time: allow 25 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Science; Critical and Creative Thinking
Create a pie graph detailing how many horses will exist in parts of the Kosciuszko National Park. Your graph should visually represent the numbers presented in the article.
Time: allow 15 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: Mathematics
What happens next?
Imagine this story becomes part of an animated series made up of three cartoons. The three cartoons tell the complete story and this article is only Part 1. Think about what the rest of the story could be and draw the next two cartoons that tell the story.
Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Visual Arts; Visual Communication Design; Critical and Creative Thinking