Population Australian
Alps and Kosciuszko Brumby Horses

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

From the document Feral Horses in the Australian Alps: the Analysis of Aerial Surveys Conducted in April-May, 2014 and April-May2019 (Cairns, 2019) page 1, the following figures were given.

Year |
North Kosciuszko |
Bago Maragle |
Byadbo Victoria |
Australian Alps |

2014 |
3255 |
1616 |
4316 |
9187 |

2019 |
15,687 |
1113 |
8518 |
25,318 |

The average group size spotted
in the 2019 survey was 3.515 horses (page 31 of the above document).

Working then on an average
group size of 4 horses, this would of course mean there would be approximately __6,330 groups of horses over
the parks!__

Please see the following
document

According to this
document, the populations in the park **are
likely to increase by ****between 6% and 17% per year**. This
follows many other scientific papers on this matter.

In the 2008 management plan

population growth rates are said to be closer to 8%.

Using figures from the surveys
done in 2009 and 2014, the increase in population for the whole of the Kosciuzsko Park calculates out at an **estimated increase
of 16%, **which is a realistic maximum increase. They had calculated the increase to be much
lower at around 7% but there was no account taken of horse removals by the
parks. Also worth noting is that to get from the 2014 figure to the proposed 19,000
horses that the Park mention on their website, this would be an increase of
suddenly __27% not including removals and 29% when accounting for removals__

The analysis report notes
(page 1) for the North Kosciuszko area (where the majority of horses are and
the subject of the proposed cull now) Equated with this increase over the intervening five
years was a finite rate of population increase of 1.370 or ** 37%! **And
apart from this being a ludicrous increase, it is made worse by the fact that
removals of horses had again not been taken into account! So the estimated
population increase would be

When studying papers relating
to previous counts, the same discrepancy was found, in that the estimated
population increase percentage was made without taking into account the removal
of horses by the parks and in so doing, these figures, which are already (in
particular the 37%) way over the normal scientific agreed maximum population
increases, would be even higher than stated in the reports. **It is absolutely
not likely to exceed the 17%
mentioned above**. And population rates would not suddenly go
up from 16% to 29%. And certainly would not be 41%!

In the survey report they have
then used the overall increases from the whole of the Alpine Parks areas to get
a more realistic population increase, but as these populations of horses are
very distinct and separated, it is EXTREMELY UNLIKELY that horses would have
drifted across to the North Kosciusko region from another region. Therefore the
reality is that the estimated numbers in this area are WAY IN EXCESS OF THE
REAL NUMBER OF HORSES IN THIS AREA.

Over the whole of the Alpine
Parks (including Victoria region), when taking into account removal of horses from
both Parks, the estimated increase in population would have to be approx. 12%
from 2009 to 2014 to get from the 7,679 horses estimated in 2009 to the
estimated 9,187 in 2014 and then suddenly shoot up to an increase of **26% **to
get to the figure of 25,318. Again a ridiculously high figure! Mostly because
of the supposed increase in the North Kosciuszko area.

According to the survey done
in 2005 the estimated population in the Kosciuszko National Park was a total of
**1710 horses**. This was from a survey done by Montague Drake in 2005.

For removal of horses in the
Kosciuszko Park please see

Therefore, starting with the
population estimate for 2005 of 1710 horses, using an increase in population of
the maximum stated of 17% (also would agree with other scientific papers), but
taking into account the removals by the parks the total figure of horses in the
Kosciuszko National Park would be approximately __2984 in 2014 and 3508 in
2016.__

Continuing with the same
calculation of 17% increase and accounting for removals the total estimated
figure for the Kosciuszko National Park for ** 2019 would be 5155. **Not over 19,000!

And these figures would of
course be ** pre-fires!** The
count done after the bushfires of 2003 found that the population was reduced by
approx. 41%

In the area of ** North
Kosciuszko** the area of the planned cull in 2005 the estimated
population in this area was

Again using the reported
removals in this area and accounting for a 17% maximum increase, the calculated
estimate of the number of horses in this area of the park would be __1795
in 2014 and __** 2581 in 2019! **Some years there have been significant removals of horses in this
area (616 in 2012).

The planned removal therefore
of 4,000 horses, would not only remove ** ALL OF THE HORSES IN THIS AREA OF
THE PARK, **but if there are as suspected by the locals, more likely
even lower than the number given above of

As we all know, rehoming of
4,000 horses in one go would absolutely never be possible and so its perfectly
clear that these horses will be either shot in the park grounds or taken to a
knackery facility. There needs to be, first of all, a new count of the horses
remaining in the park to establish a much more accurate count of the current
numbers. This can be done using drone technology with video or aerial spotting,
as has already been used. This would show to all parties
proof of the actual numbers remaining in the park.

There have been regular annual spotting counts
done by the parks using visual sight and helicopters in the Northern Kosciuszko
area. **Observed numbers from one of these in 2014 were 1637. ** .**This of course is VERY MUCH IN ALIGNMENT
WITH THE FIGURE I HAVE GIVEN FOR THIS YEAR OF 1795. **The amount of horses
spotted in this area in 2019 was 3110 according to the horse count flights
September 25-26 2019.

**All of this of course is
also not taking account horses that perished in the fires!**

It seems therefore that more
reliance should be made on these sight surveys and additional surveys using
drone technology with video. Rather than computer modelling.

Once done, if at all
necessary, the horse population could be controlled by some rehoming and
population control. There are now new proven techniques of this and there are
local horse people who are qualified to do such control. Further protection of
areas of significance could be made using the suggestions of the top Wildlife
Ecologist Mr Craig Downer, who has written a paper
giving specific suggestions of keeping the horses away from these areas.
Looking at the map showing the distribution of the horse populations in the
park, there is very little crossover anyway into these areas.