The scene that greeted Ian and Michelle Brown when they arrived in Kosciuszko National Park on the October long weekend. Photo: Snowy Brumby Photography Adventures/Facebook.

 

Aerial culling of brumbies has had its ban overturned in the Kosciuszko National Park as part of a NSW government plan to manage growing numbers of feral horses. Previous control methods include passive trapping, aerial and ground mustering, rehoming, shooting in trap yards, tranquillising, ground shooting and removal to a knackery have not proven successful enough for the NSW Government. This led to Friday’s decision to have aerial culling added to the 2021 Kosciuszko National Park wild horse management plan, which requires numbers to be reduced to 3,000 by June 2027.

 

NSW Environment Minister Penny Sharpe said there were “simply too many” wild horses in Kosciuszko National Park. She said the change was necessary to help save endangered and vulnerable species and their habitat, protect soil and waterways and conserve cultural heritage. “Threatened native species are in danger of extinction and the entire ecosystem is under threat,” Ms Sharpe said. “We must take action.” The State Government received more than 11,000 submissions from the community to comment on the amendment, 87 per cent of which commented on aerial shooting.

 

They say 82 per cent of those supported a reintroduction of aerial shooting, raising concerns about the inadequacy of existing control measures for the horses, among other issues. A Senate inquiry heard in August that 2,201 feral horses had been removed from the park since the 2021 plan was implemented. But aerial shooting has been allowed to further reduce the population. Tourists have been confronted by dead and rotting horse remains in the park over the last few months.

 

“This was not an easy decision,” Ms Sharpe said. “No one wants to have to kill wild horses.” A survey of the wild horse population in Kosciuszko from November 2022 estimated that 18,814 horses remained in the park. This year’s survey has been undertaken, and is currently being peer-reviewed before release, expected later in the year.

 

The politicians should see first hand what happens to the horses and make sure they are across the process. They could do this by riding along with the professional shooters to watch the mares and foals shot dead from above. It may be enlightening for them.