Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

The Colong Foundation for Wilderness shocked at aerial horse survey results, calls for action to immediately reduce population

The release today of the 2019 Australian Alps Feral Horse Aerial Survey reveals that Kosciuszko National Park feral horse population has exploded. The survey reports a population increase of ~275.5% since the last count in 2014, numbers having grown from 9190 to 25,318, and with it a huge increase of horse-inflicted damage occurring throughout Kosciuszko National Park.

Horse numbers have skyrocketed in the wilderness areas, including the Bimberi, Goobragandra, Pilot and Byadbo wilderness areas, as well as Mt. Kosciuszko itself. Pristine, sensitive alpine landscapes are experiencing disturbance from massive mobs of feral horses.

Wilson Harris, Natural Areas Campaigner, the Colong Foundation said: “The NSW Government’s proposed ‘management’ of ‘heritage horses’ has clearly failed. Strategies utilised to control the population of feral horses in Kosciuszko National Park, such as trapping and removal, are unable to keep up given the reported annual population increase of 23%. Feral horse numbers and the damage they are causing throughout Kosciuszko has reached a crisis point. Immediate, drastic action needs to be taken to reduce the population quickly, effectively and humanely.  The only management strategy which will facilitate this is aerial culling, which must be re-introduced immediately.

“The booming population, with overgrazing and competition for resources in worsening drought conditions is likely to lead to widespread starvation and suffering, as seen last year on the Snowy River. This avoidable animal welfare tragedy should be addressed before it unfolds. The suffering that the ‘Heritage Horse Act’ inflicts on the very animals they are attempting to protect is hugely problematic, and further signifies why this legislation is disastrous.

“Wilderness areas throughout the alps’ region contain some of the most important ecosystems and communities for endangered and threatened species. Creeks, rivers and bogs (particularly Sphagnum bogs) that occur within these wilderness areas are major contributors to some of Australia’s most important river’s, such as the Murray. The negative impact horses have on water quality from bank erosion, and on drought resilience provided by bogs, swamps and fens should be a major cause for concern, given the drought gripping NSW.

Wilson Harris| 0479100461