NSW bushfire pest plan cannot ignore feral horse destruction

Wildlife recovery efforts from the recent bushfires will be hampered if the NSW government fails to deal with all hard-hoofed feral animals, and that includes environmentally destructive feral horses.

“Pest control in Guy Fawkes River National Park is about to begin, a park severely burnt multiple times last year, yet the operation will deliberately avoid shooting feral horses and feral cattle,” Invasive Species Council CEO Andrew Cox said.

“The NSW government cannot announce the state’s biggest pest control plan and then leave feral horses out of the picture. They are one of the state’s most environmentally destructive pest animals.”

The feral horse population in many parks across NSW has skyrocketed, including in Guy Fawkes River, Kosciuszko, Barrington and Oxley Wild Rivers national parks. They are also found in conservation areas at Yuraygir, Pilliga, the Blue Mountains and Torrington.

“Feral horses are eating and trampling habitat desperately needed by our starving native wildlife suffering in the aftermath of the bushfires, we must stop our national parks being taken over by these pest animals.

“Control of all pest animals by ground and aerial shooting must be permitted where this is humane and effective.”

Before the fires there were more than 2000 feral horses in Guy Fawkes River National Park, a 20-fold increase since 2000.

Animal welfare experts rate aerial shooting, if carried out properly, as the most humane control method for feral horses. This can be supported by ground shooting and trapping depending on the terrain and access.

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