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Wagga MP, Dr Joe McGirr, has questioned the wisdom of legislation giving heritage protection to wild horses in Kosciuszko National Park.

Wagga MP, Dr Joe McGirr has expressed concerns about recent legislation giving heritage status to the brumbies in Kosciuszko National Park.

Dr McGirr said he had concerns about recent legislation giving heritage status to the brumbies in Kosciuszko National Park.

Seen as a win for local horse groups advocating for protections to the high country brumby, the legislation has been panned by scientists worried about the impact on the environment.

Dr McGirr said he shared some of the scientists’ concerns, and knows his stance will not be popular with some of the horse fraternity in the region.

“I think the important thing is the health of the Kosciuszko National Park,” Dr McGirr said.

“I am extremely concerned that what was passed is not healthy for the park.”

In May, Deputy Premier John Barilaro announced the NSW Government had approved new legislation to recognise and protect the heritage value and cultural significance of the Snowy Mountains brumby.

Dubbed the ‘Brumbies Bill’, the new laws require the Minister for the Environment to prepare a heritage management plan for the brumby, which will identify areas within the Kosciuszko National Park where populations will be maintained, and set rules around brumby management.

The heritage management plan will specifically prohibit lethal culling of the brumby, aerial or otherwise, and will identify those areas in the park where brumbies can roam without causing significant environmental harm.

If brumbies are found in highly-sensitive alpine areas of Kosciuszko National Park, resources will be allocated towards relocation first, followed by re-homing, should population numbers grow too high.

The legislation also requires all future plans of management for Kosciuszko National Park to recognise the cultural significance of the brumby.

It followed a horse management plan released by National Parks and Wildlife which advocated culling brumby numbers from 6000 down to 600 over the course of 20 years. The plan was bitterly opposed by local horse groups.

Other changes made to the management of brumbies in Kosciuszko National Park include:

  • The establishment of a Wild Horse Community Advisory Panel to advise the Minister of appropriate management approaches for the brumby;
  • A research and monitoring program that scientifically informs future wild horse management plans;
  • A brumby count to gain a more accurate assessment of brumby numbers and where they range; and
  • A marketing campaign to promote re-homing and adoption of brumbies that need to be removed from the park.

Scientists say brumbies are causing damage to some of the most pristine areas of the park.

“I don’t think it was the right thing to do,” Dr McGirr said of the state government legislation passed last year.

“I understand people’s feelings about the brumby, but I am concerned about the damage being done for the native fauna and flora.”