The NSW Government’s draft Kosciuszko feral horse plan released today has promised a significant reduction in feral horses in the park, but also locks in damage to key areas in one of Australia ‘s favourite national parks.
“The new draft plan aims to increase areas of Kosciuszko free of feral horses from 47% to 68%, which is significant progress. Areas in the north, west and around the alpine regions will have horses entirely removed,” Invasive Species Council conservation director James Trezise said today.
“Unfortunately, the plan aims to leave 3000 horses trampling a third of the park which will lock in long-term environmental damage for these areas.
“The Long Plain, Currango Plain and Snowy Plains in the north and Byadbo, Snowy River and Pilot areas in the south will have to suffer permanent horse populations.
“We can have the current number of 14,000 feral horses in Kosciuszko National Park, or we can have healthy ecosystems and recovering native wildlife but we can’t have both.
“In an important breakthrough, the draft plan provides for ground shooting, one of the most effective and humane options for feral horse control.
“But the plan falls short in rejecting the most effective control method aerial shooting necessary in rugged parts of Kosciuszko.
“Feral horses damage sensitive ecosystems and harm unique wildlife in Kosciuszko. They are a danger to motorists and a financial burden to NSW taxpayers.
“Trapping and rehoming horses has proven to be inadequate for feral horse control unless accompanied by other control measures.
“The real test will be whether the NSW Government can finally deliver a plan to reduce horses in Kosciuszko. Time is running out for the Alps and our Australian wildlife,” Mr Trezise said.
The plan is the result of controversial legislation introduced in June 2018 that overrode the Kosciuszko National Park Plan of Management and abandoned an earlier draft horse plan that had widespread support.
Mr Trezise said, “The community has been waiting for this plan since 2014. It has gone through the prolonged process John Barilaro legislated. Now it’s time to act.”
“We appreciate that there is a lot of emotion when it comes to horses in Kosciuszko. But failure to act will consign native Australian wildlife and our natural and Indigenous heritage to a grim future.”
Submissions to the draft horse plan are open for the next month until 2 November 2021.