An independent review of the NSW Government’s trial of aerial shooting for feral horses in Kosciuszko National Park has found that the removal of 270 feral horses was conducted without any adverse animal welfare events and in line with standard operating procedures.
Also released today were the results of the recent NSW government survey of feral horse numbers which found that there are now about 17,432 feral horses in Kosciuszko National Park (with a 95% confidence interval of between 12,934 and 22,536). This is a reduction of 1,382 or 7.3% since the last survey in spring 2022 which found approximately 18,814 feral horses in the park.
Local indigenous river guide and honorary Associate Professor at the Australian National University, Richard Swain said:
“For the sake of the high country it is past time that we put to bed the senseless arguments around feral horse numbers and accepted the evidence that aerial shooting is the most humane and effective control method to reduce the population.
“This scientific population survey and the RSPCA report on the humaneness of aerial shooting should be the end of the debate.
“We can’t afford any more senseless destruction of our rivers and wildlife. The time for talks and reviews is over, we need action and impact on the ground.”
Jack Gough, Advocacy Director at the Invasive Species Council said:
“This is fantastic news. While the reduction is modest, it is the first time in over two decades that we have actually seen feral horse numbers in Kosciuszko National Park decline, other than in response to devastating drought or fire.
“Finally we are starting to see progress on this issue. This reduction of the feral horse population has occurred despite very good seasonal conditions in recent years which would normally have led to a population explosion.
“It reflects the vital commitment from the NSW Government to empower our professional national parks rangers to reverse the senseless devastation of our alpine rivers and wildlife.
“It is important to note that even with this small reduction in numbers the NSW Government is still off track in their efforts to reach 3,000 feral horses by 2027. It is evident that they will not reach that target without aerial shooting.
“As expected, the review by the RSPCA and independent veterinarians has found that aerial shooting, when conducted by skilled professionals, is a safe, humane and effective control method for feral horses. We can finally put to rest any argument on this point.
‘No one likes to see animals killed, but the sad reality is that we have a choice to make between urgently reducing the numbers of feral horses or accepting the destruction of sensitive alpine ecosystems and habitats, and the decline and extinction of native animals.
“We may not like it, but culling by highly trained professionals is the only viable way of reducing numbers and saving the national park and our native animals that live there.
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