The federal government’s own Threatened Species Scientific Committee have sounded the alarm bell on the impacts of feral horses on Australia’s threatened native wildlife.
The committee have described feral horses as an ‘imminent threat’ to the Albanese government’s commitment to prevent new extinctions of plants and animals in its submission to a federal Senate inquiry into feral horse impacts in the Australian Alps.
‘Feral horses in the alps… pose an imminent threat to the Threatened Species Action Plan’s objective to prevent new extinctions of plants and animals.’
Submission from the Threatened Species Scientific Committee to the Inquiry into the Impacts and Management of Feral Horses in the Australian Alps.
The Committee’s submission notes that feral horses are a direct threat to at least 12 native animals that occur in the Australian Alps that have been assessed under federal environment law as being threatened with extinction.
They make clear that, while each of these 12 native animals faces other serious threats, feral horses ‘may be the crucial factor that causes final extinction’.
‘The alarm bells should be ringing loudly in the federal government,’ said Invasive Species Council advocacy manager Jack Gough.
‘The Commonwealth’s own independent, expert scientific advisory body has pulled no punches in their assessment. Twelve unique Australian alpine animals face extinction and they say feral horses could be the final nail in their coffin.’
‘The message could not be clearer: unless feral horses are urgently removed from Australia’s alpine and sub-alpine regions, native animals will likely go extinct.
‘The lack of action on tackling this major threat seriously jeopardises the Australian government’s commitment to zero extinctions.
’In 2008, the then federal Labor Government declared the Australian Alps to be a National Heritage Place to protect its unique plants and animals and pristine mountain streams. Since then, populations of feral horses have exploded in parts of the Alps across NSW and Victoria.
‘It is now incumbent upon Minister Plibersek to take action to save our native alpine wildlife and stop their habitat being trashed and trampled by feral horses.
‘Namadgi National Park in the northern part of the Alps, in the ACT, is currently feral horse free. The protection of Namadgi shows what’s possible when there is strong political will, concerted action and coordination.
‘The federal government needs to step in and develop national regulations and standards to protect the Australian Alps and ensure that the states and territories effectively manage the threat of feral horses to the highest possible standard,’ said Mr Gough.
The federal Senate inquiry was established in response to the latest government figures which found that, despite plans in place to reduce feral horse numbers, NSW’s feral horse population in Kosciuszko National Park has increased alarmingly from 14,000 to over 18,000 during the past two years – a 30% jump.