New South Wales authorities describe the act as “essential” to protect endangered wildlife.
An estimated 19,000 wild horses — better known as the “brumbies” — in Kosciuszko National Park are already passively trapped, aerial and ground mustered, rehomed, shot in trap yards, tranquilized, shot from the ground, and sent to slaughter. But the state’s environment minister, Penny Sharpe, told RTE that more action was necessary.
“Threatened native species are in danger of extinction, and the entire ecosystem is under threat,” she said.
The government hopes to bring the horse population down to 3,000 by 2027.
The move is being praised by farmers and conservationists who condemn the horses for destroying native plants, increasing soil erosion, and trampling wildlife burrows.
Jacqui Mumford, head of the Nature Conservation Council, said the brumbies’ activity damages “at least 25 threatened alpine flora and 14 threatened alpine fauna species, including the iconic corroboree frog, the broad-toothed rat, and rare alpine orchids.”
ABC reported Federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek said she “strongly welcomed” the announcement, saying it would be a “huge help” in reducing numbers.
“I love horses, but they don’t belong in national parks,” Plibersek said.
Those against the culling argue brumbies are a unique part of Australia’s national identity and that aerial shooting is a particularly cruel method of euthanasia.
Australian Brumby Alliance president Jill Pickering told ABC, “I’m really saddened. It’s terrible for us and even worse for the brumbies.”
After discussing the challenging wilderness terrain hunters would be working in, she added, “It’s impossible to get an accurate shot.”
The last time aerial shooting was allowed in the park, over 600 horses were killed in three days.
BRUMBY’S RUN by A.B. “Banjo” Paterson
On odds and ends of mountain land,
On tracks of range and rock
Where no one else can make a stand,
Old Brumby rears his stock.
A wild, unhandled lot they are
Of every shape and breed.
They venture out ‘neath moon and star
Along the flats to feed;
But when the dawn makes pink the sky
And steals along the plain,
The Brumby horses turn and fly
Towards the hills again.
Amanda Uechi Ronan is an author, equestrian, and wannabe race car driver. Follow her on Instagram @amanda_uechi_ronan.