Fallout Over Wild Horse Bill

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When the population control of feral horses is debated all reasoning and scientific research is brushed to the side for emotional decision making to please minority groups. These groups have a total disregard for the damage that is being caused by wild horse populations.

Firearms owners are also subject to these knee-jerk decisions based on minority pressures. We have witnessed research and statistics being thrown out the window to appease small noisy groups.

Whether you are for or against the control of the feral horses this is another example of our politicians failing to make policy based on facts.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported fallout after the Berejiklian government's plan to protect wild horses in NSW's largest national park has begun, with a leading ecologist quitting a key panel citing a "wilful disregard" for science.

David Watson, an ecology professor at Charles Sturt University, resigned his membership on the NSW Threatened Species Scientific Committee following the passage late on Wednesday of a bill granting "heritage" status to feral horses in the Kosciuszko National Park. 

"The wilful disregard that you and your government colleagues have for science diminishes our collective future, relegating our precious national parks and priceless environment to political playthings," Professor Watson said in a letter to Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton.

"The information summarised in this document is clear and unambiguous - feral horses have a litany of negative effects on native plants, animals and ecological communities," Professor Watson said in the letter.

The government justified the protection of brumbies, saying the animals' presence in alpine regions dated back to early European settlement. Its own 2016 draft policy recommended it cut horses numbers in the park by 90 per cent over 20 years to about 600.

"It strikes the right balance between protecting the environment and the heritage value of the brumbies that have been in the area for nearly 200 years," Ms Upton said in a speech to parliament supporting the bill.

Government scientists were increasingly being muzzled, including in the Office of Environment and Heritage, he said: "They can't speak to anyone in the media about [their work]".

Penny Sharpe, Labor's environment spokeswoman, said Professor Watson's resignation was "a terrible blow for NSW”.

“Science is not a stakeholder group, the advice of our scientists is key to good policy and we ignore scientists at our peril," she said. “The bill should never have been progressed and it is an indictment on the Minister for the Environment and the entire government that it has.”

“This government has completely lost the trust of the scientific community," Dr Faruqi said. "This will be very hard to gain back."

 

ACT Parks will kill Horses that cross the border. 

Wild horses that cross into the ACT from Kosciuszko National Park in New South Wales, where culling has been halted, will be killed, according to ACT Parks and Conservation.

Director of ACT Parks and Conservation Services, Daniel Iglesias said the ACT’s threatened plants, animals and water catchment needed to be protected.

“Heavy hoofed animals damage waterways, cause erosion and trample habitat. They threaten the water quality in the Murray-Darling Basin,” he said.

“The science is clear. Feral horses, along with other European introduced pests such as pigs and deer, are a major threat to the unique environment of the Australian Alps.”

Mr Iglesias said the northern corroboree frog, which live in the moist alpine bogs of the ACT high country, was just one of the critically endangered animals whose habitat was damaged by hard hoofed animals including horses.

He said the catchment was a main source of drinking water in the ACT, and it relied on the integrity and protection of Namadgi National Park.

“Nationally, snowmelt and rainfall flowing from the Australian Alps contributes more than 30 per cent of inflows into the Murray-Darling system, and even more in dry years, despite covering just 0.2 per cent of the continent,” he said.

Feral horses did not recognise state boundaries, but the ACT had been effective in excluding horses from moving from Kosciuszko into the ACT’s high country to date, Mr Iglesias said.

“We will have a strong interest in whatever control programs NSW adopt, as they have to be effective enough to ensure ACT’s water catchment is not impacted by horses crossing the border,” he said.

“In the ACT, we are focused on ensuring our sensitive and critical water catchment is protected from the harmful impact of feral animals, including horses.”

NSW laws will recognise the heritage value of the feral horse or brumby in Kosciuszko National Park and set a framework for protecting it.

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