Today’s open letter from the Australian Academy of Science and seven other scientific societies raises the alarm for a park in crisis and calls for the NSW Government to strengthen its draft Kosciuszko Wild Horse Management Plan.
The open letter calls for the removal of a target that would retain 3000 feral horses in Kosciuszko National Park, noting the ongoing damage this number of horses would have on alpine wetlands. It also raises serious concerns for the proposal to retain horses in a third of the park and calls for a full suite of horse control methods.
The open letter has been endorsed by eight scientific societies and more than 60 individual scientists.
“This letter underscores the need for a significant strengthening of the draft plan for removing feral horses from Kosciuszko National Park,” Invasive Species Council conservation director James Trezise said today.
“We echo calls from the scientific community to urgently reduce the number of horses to be kept in the park and for a major rethink of the zones for horse retention.
“We are also supporting the call for all control options to be available to park managers, including aerial shooting.
“Keeping thousands of horses in Kosciuszko runs contrary to international standards for park management and will threaten the survival of sensitive alpine ecosystems and native Australian wildlife, such as the critically endangered stocky galaxias.
“The stocky galaxias is a unique Australian fish that occurs nowhere else on Earth except for a small patch of Kosciuszko. The entire occurrence of this species exists within one of the proposed horse retention zones which, if implemented, would permanently lock-in a key threat to this critically endangered species.
“Just one week ago the federal government placed the stocky galaxias on its list of 100 priority threatened species for recovery, yet we have a plan before us from NSW that will effectively guarantee the destruction of its habitat. It is nonsensical, particularly for a government such as NSW that is committed to zero extinctions within its national parks.
“The statement from Australia’s leading scientific bodies is a clarion call to the NSW Government that it is time to protect the incredible wildlife, ecosystems and Indigenous cultural heritage of Kosciuszko National Park, and to strengthen its proposed feral horse plan,” Mr Trezise said.
The draft plan is open for public consultation until 2 November 2021.