Review of some aspects of the 2008 Management Plan, the Review and the ITRG Report

Author - Joanne Canning, BSc Equine Sports Science, HND Equine Sports Coaching, BHSII

 

2008 Management Plan

Reference-

https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/-/media/OEH/Corporate-Site/Documents/Animals-and-plants/Pests-and-weeds/Kosciuszko-wild-horses/kosciuszko-national-park-horse-management-plan-080254.pdf

 

Page 13- “To effectively manage a population it is important to estimate its size and distribution. “

They cannot effectively manage the population if they don’t really have any idea of the size of the population, due to their current estimates NOT being scientifically realistic!

 

Executive summary- “The Steering Group examined the range of horse management methods available, including fertility control, fencing, shooting and capture and removal methods and some of the issues associated with each of the methods in the document. After reviewing the different methods, the Steering Group recognised that different techniques are best suited to different situations depending on issues such as mob size, geography and season. The Group agreed that as with any vertebrate pest program, a combination of different techniques will give the most effective result.”

They haven’t used and are not using a combination of different techniques. No fertility control. No fencing.

 

Page 3 - “to make sure that the community is consulted about how we are going to remove the horses”

Are they consulting with the community about how they remove the horses????

 

Page 3 - “to ensure that the removal process does not harm the natural and cultural values of the Park;”

If all the horses end up being removed from the 3 areas in the park, because of incorrect counts, then it will of course harm the natural and cultural values of the Park.

 

Page 3 - “to monitor advances in horse control methods, such as fertility control, to ensure the most effective methods are being utilised in the program.”

They haven’t monitored the advances!

 

Page 13/14 - Montague-Drake undertook a survey of horse numbers in 2005 using similar methods to Walter, and estimated that the population of horses in the southern part of Kosciuszko was about 590 with a density of 1.56 horses per km , while the northern end had about 1120, with a density of 1.67 horses per km . This gave a total of 1,700 horses in the park.

These are the numbers I have used for my calculations and using the highest end of the reported increases in population size of 17%. This computes to the figures of maximum pre fire of 5155 horses in the total Kosciuszko Park and maximum of 2581 horses in the North Kosciuszko area. Any higher would be extremely improbable especially after the fires!

Page 25 - “The Steering Group and the wider community recognise that there are different opinions about the use of culling techniques to remove horses from the Park. On this basis, it is proposed that only injured, very ill or a horse that threatens the safety of people will be euthanised

They are being euthanised if going to a knackery or abattoir!!

 

Page 27 - “Once they are removed from the Park, some horses will have the potential to be trained as riding horses, carriage horses or pets. Some horses, because of their age and ‘wildness’ would inevitably end up being destroyed or sent to an abattoir. “

Horses are being sent to the abattoir IRRESPECTIVE of these things! It is not only sick, ill or extremely old or impossible to handle horses that are ending up at the abattoir! Any horse basically that is above demand for rehoming is sent to the abattoir irrespective of whether they come into these categories!

 

Page 29 - “We propose to do aerial surveys of horses in the north and the south at least every five years and ground surveys every year in areas where horse removal operations will be conducted.”

No ground survey post fire 2020 before removals!

 

Review of 2008 Management Plan

 

Reference-

Review of the 2008 Horse Management Plan and Wild Horse Management Program, Kosciuszko National Park (nsw.gov.au)

 

Page 3 - “The aim is to reduce the wild horse population to a level where a combination of fertility control and non-lethal harvesting (trapping, mustering and removal from the park) better match community demand for wild horses, therefore reducing or negating the need to apply lethal control methods.”

This may already be the case if numbers are - as we are pretty sure, are WAY below their estimates! So probably already in a position to use only these methods!

 

Page 4 “In this Review, NPWS refers to the horses as ‘wild horses’ in an effort to maintain balance between environmental and horse advocacy stakeholder groups that regard the terms ‘brumby’ or ‘feral’ as either romanticising or being derogatory, depending on the viewpoint. “

They are still regularly being referred to as feral on Parks papers and surveys!

 

Page 11 - Whether horse numbers are on the increase is an important question as it helps to establish whether past management efforts have been sufficient.’ (ITRG 2016)”

The counts are not scientifically sound so they don’t know if management is being successful. The aerial spot counts suggest management in North Kosciuszko IS SUFFICIENT! 2010 1460

2011 1262

2012 1312

2013 1646

2014 1637

Page 16 - Exclosures have been placed around key Corroboree Frog sites to exclude feral horses (SOP 2010).”

So if this is the case, why are horses still getting the blame for damaging sites they have no access to!

 

Report of the ITRG - 2016

 

Reference-

https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/-/media/OEH/Corporate-Site/Documents/Animals-and-plants/Pests-and-weeds/Kosciuszko-wild-horses/final-report-independent-technical-reference-group-supplementary-wild-horse-management-plan-160221.pdf?la=en&hash=26B121837E28A2C68514B34D99A21C18F7557E16

 

Page 9 - “While studies on herbivory are widespread, there is less information specifically on the effects of horses. This is because controlled experimental studies are rare, and most rely on a correlational approach and are often complicated by the presence of other herbivores (Beever & Brussard 2000). Exclosure plots that exclude all grazing herbivores are likely to exaggerate the impacts of horses (Linklater et al. 2002). Some studies fail to find an effect, or may even find a positive impact (e.g. Fahnestock & Detling 1999).”

 

Page 11- “Some methodological problems make interpretation difficult. Exclosure plots are often positioned to record impacts in very specific habitat types, which are not representative of damage across the range, and exclosure plots typically exclude other large grazers like deer (e.g. Linklater et al. 2002).”

 

Page 39 - “The ITRG concludes that there are significant knowledge gaps in our understanding of horses in KNP.”

 

Page 41 - “Surprisingly little is known about the ecology of horses in KNP. ”

 

This speaks for itself. Exclosure plots have excluded all animals larger than a wombat size so don’t prove horse damage! Little known about the ecology of horses and little information specifically about horses! Significant knowledge gaps in our understanding of horses in KNP.