The Andrews government has released a long-term plan to protect the Alpine National Park in Victoria from the threat of feral horses.
Minister for Environment Lily D’Ambrosio launched the Protection of the Alpine National Park – Feral Horse Strategic Plan 2018-2021 this week, which aims to radically reduce wild horse numbers in the park. In announcing the plan, Minister D’Ambrosio said “feral horses cannot be allowed to run rampant in the Alpine national park – their hard hooves damage the precious environment and destroy the habitats of threatened species.”
The enormous environmental impacts of wild horses are widely documented. In spite of this, the NSW government has aligned itself with the ‘brumby lobby’, which wants to keep wild horses in the Kosciuszko national park for ‘cultural reasons’.
According to the Victorian government, “there are an estimated 2,500 feral horses in Victoria’s eastern alps, causing significant damage to threatened plant and wildlife species within the Alpine National Park”.
Under the Victorian government’s plan, the primary control technique will be to trap feral horses and rehome as many as possible. Those that cannot be rehomed will be ‘humanely euthanised’.
Under the plan, the government intends to remove ‘up to’ 400 feral horses a year for three years from the eastern alps, where as many as 2,500 of the animals are causing “significant damage” to threatened plant and animal species. A smaller population of 80 to 100 horses in the Bogong high plains will be removed entirely.
Following the release of the draft plan in 2017, Parks Victoria, the body which manages the Alpine national park, received around 1,000 submissions from stakeholders and the community.
More than 80% of responses expressed support for managing the number of feral horses to protect the Alpine National Park and its vulnerable ecosystems.
The minister noted that with NSW deciding to legislate to preserve wild horse numbers in Kosciuszko national park, lack of action in that state could impact efforts by Victoria to control horse numbers.
She said it was alarming that NSW was moving to legislate protection for feral horses and this would create problems in parklands over the border.
“Feral horses don’t recognise state borders – the proposed NSW bill will allow their population to grow and run wild,” she said.
“We have developed a strong plan to protect this treasured part of the world and we call on the NSW and the Turnbull governments to support it.”
The federal environment and energy minister, Josh Frydenberg, gave his approval this week to the NSW plan to protect brumbies in the Kosciuszko national park, despite initially describing the animals as “a bit of a pest”.