Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Culling 5,000 brumbies: 41 scientists back controversial Kosciuszko proposal

Academics say plan to slash number of wild horses is needed to protect delicate Snowy Mountains environment

Australian Associated Press
Friday 19 August 201604.38 BST

A plan to cull more than 5,000 brumbies in the Snowy Mountains has received the support of leading scientists from around Australia.

Forty-one scientists from 16 universities have written to the New South Wales premier, Mike Baird, to support the proposed cull of 90% of the brumby population in Kosciuszko national park.

They are backing a controversial NSW government plan to reduce the number of brumbies from 6,000 to 600 over 20 years, arguing it is needed to protect the delicate Alpine environment.

One of the signatories, Prof Don Driscoll from Deakin University, said the academics behind the letter represented the greatest pool of knowledge about Alpine ecosystems in the country. Horses were not compatible with nature conservation in a national park, Driscoll said.

 “Horses are stock animals recently introduced and are not characteristic of this area, but threaten ecosystem processes, ecosystems and species that are characteristic,” he said on Friday.

He said the brumbies in Kosciuszko had degraded 48% of the national park and the current management strategy was not working. The population had increased from 4,200 in 2009 to 6,000 despite 450 being removed each year, he said.

Driscoll said the group believed the current rehoming system was not a humane solution because there was not enough demand for the brumbies. “Only 18% of 3,183 horses removed since 2002 were rehomed,” he said. “The remaining 82% of horses went to abattoirs after a long journey.

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