Brumby advocates Alan Lanyon, Beryl Ryan and Lynette Sutton at Wednesday night’s meeting at the Tumut CWA hall, which attracted about 100 people.
Close to 100 horsemen and women, concerned residents and National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) representatives gathered in Tumut on Wednesday evening to discuss the future of brumbies in the Kosciuszko National Park.
Endurance rider and experienced mountain man Alan Lanyon and Beryl Ryan chaired the meeting that discussed six resolutions with the group voted overwhelmingly to lodge with the Minister for the Environment, Robyn Parker.
The resolutions aim to secure the future of the brumby population, put an end to discussions regarding aerial culling of the horses and endeavour to create a horse management plan that focuses on the positive aspects of the wild horses and creates a sustainable environment for the brumby.
The large gathering reflected the community’s interest in the wild horses that are currently regarded as a feral pest by NPWS but as a national treasure worth preserving by the horsemen.
Whilst the issue was raised by Snowy Mountains Bush Users Group SMBUG president, Peter Cochran, that there was no need to legislate to stop aerial culling as an agreement already exists with the Liberal government that aerial culling will not take place, Mr Lanyon said the only way to secure the brumbies future is to have it in writing.
“All it takes is a change of government and an agreement with the Greens to get another policy through and the culling will start,” Mr Lanyon said. “If it is enacted through legislation then they have to bide by it.
“Otherwise we will be here again in another five years time talking about the same thing. We need action and a place at the table when they draft the new NPWS Horse Management Plan.”
In the NPWS Horse Management Plan for Kosciuszko National Park, research conducted from 1999 until 2002 estimated the total population of horses in the Kosciuszko National Park was 3000.
A study survey of horse numbers in 2005 using similar methods estimated that the population of horses in the southern part of Kosciuszko was 590 and the northern end had about 1120, giving a total of 1,700 horses in the park.
In May this year, Murrumbidgee Area Manager for NPWS, Steve Cathcart, said, “The Aerial survey indicated that over 5,000 wild horses inhabit the area. The population is growing by about 20pc per year since 2003.”
Earlier this year a study conducted by Dr Worboys’ estimated 14,000 horses inhabited just a 43 kilometre area at Mt Pilot and unwittingly threw the debate open as to the reliability of the counting methods.
The second resolution the group is proposing calls for an independent study to determine how many horses are in the park and then in turn what would be a sustainable number of resident horses that will provide the basis for the future management plan.
Mr Cochran stated it was the common perception that the methodology behind the brumby count was flawed.
“What we need to know is how many brumbies there actually are,” Mr Cochran said. “The NPWS results are flawed as a helicopter forces the horses to run and it drives them from one valley to the next.
“We are trying to come up with ideas about how the count can be more accurate. The 14,000 number that has been quoted is nonsense, I don’t believe that.”
Local horseman, Robert Dodwell has been trapping and re-homing brumbies for the Forestry and has taken a few horses home for himself. He said the number one option for brumbies should be re-homing.
“There are horses that are no good and will have to go the meat-works but there are a lot of great horses in the parks that can be re-home and help to make the numbers stay at a sustainable level,” Mr Dodwell said. “People used to be allowed to go and get themselves a brumby or two but not anymore and then the NPWS wonder why the population is growing.
“Aerial culling would be no good and we can’t let it come in. Fence the roads like they used to be if they are worried about the horses causing an accident. Because if someone hits a horse and is killed all hell will break loose and they will cull them for sure.”
The NPWS Horse Management Plan for Kosciuszko National Park was due for review at the end of this year, but it has been fast tracked due to the concerns being raised across the board.
Passionate about creating a document that is more than a guideline and that concentrates on sustainable, humane horse management, Mrs Ryan asked NPWS’s Mr Cathcart what were the Parks thoughts on sustainable horse populations.
“It is not part of the current plan,” Mr Cathcart said. “The review has been brought forward and we guarantee there will be consultation with peak groups and the draft will also go out for public consultation.