New consultation being undertaken by the NSW Government into the management programs for feral horses in Kosciuszko National Park are underway and could lead to changes to the 2021 Kosciuszko National Park Wild Horse Heritage Management Plan (Management Plan) to allow aerial culling to recommence in NSW National Parks.
The Federal Government’s own Threatened Species Scientific Committee has identified feral horses as an imminent threat that will directly cause the extinction of 6 critically endangered animal species and 2 critically endangered plant species unless managed.
Greens MP and spokesperson for the Environment Sue Higginson said “The NSW Government has a responsibility to manage invasive species in National Parks and this consultation period must lead to positive changes for the Australian Alps and Kosciuszko NP. It is not acceptable that feral horses in Kosciuszko NP are pushing critically endangered species to extinction, but the idea of aerial culling is not something to be celebrated, it is to be seen as what it is, a necessary humane management tool to prevent extinction.
“When the NSW Opposition introduced protections for feral horses in NSW National Parks, it was a politically motivated disaster for native species, biodiversity and feral horses. Trapping and removal programs between 2019 and 2021 removed only 886 feral horses out of an estimated population at the time of 14 thousand, a mere 5% of horses. Meanwhile, between 2020 and 2022, the feral horse population has grown a staggering 4,434.
“Evidence from the Federal Government that was provided to the Senate inquiry into the impacts and management of feral horses in the Australian Alps shows the NSW Government will have to reduce feral horses in KNP by 4,000 per year at the very least to reach the target population of 3,000 as outlined in the Management Plan. With feral horse populations increasing each year, a review of the Management Plan is overdue and can’t come soon enough.
“It is important to remember that the RSPCA supports professionally managed aerial culling of feral horses and that we use this method of management for other invasive species across the State. An expert committee appointed by the NSW government to advise on feral horse control concluded that aerial culling is the most humane and effective method of control in Kosciuszko. Aerial Culling has been demonstrated to be an effective population control activity and it must be conducted by trained experts under the strictest of regulations to ensure it is conducted safely and humanely.
“It is heartbreaking that the feral horse issue in Kosciuszko NP has become so bad that culling is the only option, but it is an action that should be available if necessary and the experts are telling us it is now necessary. There is no graver animal welfare issue than extinction and without effective and efficient control of feral horses, that is what we are looking at,” Ms Higginson said.
For media comment contact Sue Higginson on 0428 227 363