Brumby cull set to be reined in

Photo: Amanda Hobson

There is growing speculation a controversial plan to cull 90 per cent of the brumby population in the Kosciuszko National Park will be shelved by the NSW government, after an energetic protest movement gained traction.

Instead, a new management plan is set to be developed in consultation with locals, the Daily Telegraph has reported, with the previously earmarked method of ground shooting taken off the table.

A draft wild horse management plan had slated culling horses in the Kosciuszko National Park from the estimated 6000 there now to just 600. It’s expected the cull will now not be as drastic, though what the final figure is remains to be seen.

Snowy Mountains Brumby Sustainability and Management Group (SMBSMG) president Alan Lanyon said the report that the government will take another look at how horses are managed in the park gives him confidence the cull will not go ahead, as the Liberals can’t afford another backflip on an issue close to the heart of their country constituents.

“The media release itself was a bit of a political statement,” he said.

“The government have gotten themselves in a bit of a quandary, with the Orange by-election [which the Nationals lost to a minor party] and all the drama over local government amalgamations, so this could be seen as trying to put some oil on troubled waters.

“Having said that, we do acknowledge the fact that this government has made a step in a different direction. I don’t think they’d go back on their word on the culling, having now made a public statement.

“What the government is doing is trying to take a middle line, which we applaud them for. We haven’t made much progress with previous governments, but given the past 12 months of politics, it’s now a different story.”

Mr Lanyon met with the Minister for the Environment Gabrielle Upton last week to again put forward the brumby advocates alternative suggested management plan. For the time being, the group’s focus is to push for a temporary ban on trapping the brumbies this winter, until proper consultation with local experts has taken place.

They have undertaken field research, discovering that there are traps set up and ready to go across the brumbies’ home of Long Plain, and will be heavily lobbying the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) over the weekend to hold off for another year while more research is done.

They had not heard a response as of Thursday.

“The gates will swing close on Tuesday, and if they start a trapping program who knows how many horses they’re going to slaughter,” he said.

“About 20 to 30 per cent [of trapped horses] are rehomed with institutions like the Hunter Valley Brumby Association. The 70 per cent left go to slaughter, and what’s happened previously is that there’s been no input from brumby groups as to what horses are rehomed and what horses are sent to slaughter. It’s a fact that some of the best genetics of the brumby mobs have been sent to slaughter, which doesn’t bode well for the horses.”

The SMBSMG are all for a responsible management plan for the Snowy Brumbies, but they want assurances that the brumbies won’t be eliminated altogether, which they see as being a substantial risk with the first NPWS plan – the one that has now been canned.

However, with efforts to have the government grant the brumbies heritage status appearing to have won favour, and with this latest report suggesting the slated cull will not be as severe, and that the new management plan will be done in consultation with locals, it seems more and more likely that the brumbies advocates will achieve at least some of their aims.