Review of some papers purporting horse damage

 

Reference:

An Assessment of Feral Horse Impacts on Treeless Drainage Lines in the Australian Alps - December 2015 (wordpress.com)

 

“The proportion of horse-present sites that showed evidence of recent fire was lower than that for horse-free sites (46% versus 76%)”

 

Therefore showing that sites where horses are present are less likely to be prone to fire.

 

“Two vegetation-related variables were assessed; projected foliage cover and the proportion of foliage cover that is native. No significant differences were detected among horse-present and horse-free sites for either of these variables”

 

NO DIFFERENCE in vegetation cover and proportion of native foliage.

 

“To remove the potential influence of wombats, macropods and exotic grazing and browsing mammals on soil, stream stability and vegetation cover, the data were re-analysed excluding sites where evidence of the presence of any of these species was detected.”

 

The influence of wild pigs and deer were therefore not removed.

 

“Stream channel width (m )Mean – signs of horses not present 1.0 Signs of horse presence 0.9”

 

As above – the influence of deer and wild pigs not taken into account. Horse presence does not mean horse damage.

 

 

Reference:

Assessment of Impacts of Feral Horses (Equus caballus) in the Australian Alps (wordpress.com)

 

“The Experimental Monitoring Programs”

“Two studies were established at each of two sites, as described below. The aims of these experiments are to compare the effects of removal of grazing with continued grazing by feral horses on floristic composition and structure of favoured grazing areas (grasslands), and on bank condition and disturbance of two small streams at the study sites”

“Methods”

 “Replicated exclosure experiments were established at two sites (Cowombat Flat and Native Cat Flat). These sites were selected by the AALC and Friends of the Cobberas as areas that support permanent populations of feral horses but are not currently grazed by cattle (although both have been grazed by cattle in the past).” “fenced to exclude horses but not other grazers (rabbits, wombats, macropods), and unfenced so that grazing is unrestricted.”

 

To show differences in areas excluding horses, the exclosure plots would HAVE TO EXCLUDE ONLY HORSES! They excluded very small animals like rabbits and wombats but NOT DEER OR WILD PIGS!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2013 Observations of Pest Horse Impacts in the Australian Alps (sqspcdn.com)

 

 “This “Observations” Report is produced for general information and is a record of personal observations made by the authors for the Mt Pilot area of Kosciuszko National Park in 2013. “

 

Observations only. And again using exclosure plots and therefore excluding all larger animals including deer and pigs therefore damage that cannot be attributed only to horses.

 

feral-horse-impact-thesis.pdf (wordpress.com)

 

“Exotic species colonised tracks, but not at the expense of the native species.”

 

Very old paper from 1990. Much of the paper is concerning dung piles relative to population but then also concentrates on study of tracks. Native species of flora even on tracks not affected !

 

“However, when crossing streams they avoided the Sphagnum in favour of the more solid ground under grassy and herbaceous vegetation, if this was available.”

 

Confirming what we all know that horses will avoid these soft areas if at all possible!

 

“Soil is often in a highly compacted state on tracks used by horses or other animals.

 

No differentiation between horses and other animals, therefore cannot be associated only with horses! Refers to studies done with shod domestic horses to show trampling effects on tracks! Tracks frequented not only by many different animals but would be used by humans also!

 

“However, in the current study, many of the pre-European Sphagnum Bogs would have already disappeared because of cattle grazing which was phased out in the early 1970’s, leaving the open herbaceous and grassy areas.”

 

Speaks for itself!

 

feral-horse-exclusion-plot-monitoring-and-analysis_final_1.pdf (wordpress.com)

 

“However, these impacts cannot be separated from those of deer”

 

 Again the use of exclusion plots that excluded all of the larger animals including deer and pigs! The paper is supposed to be concerning horse exclusion but does not only exclude horses in these plots!

 

feral-horse-exclusion-plot-monitoring-and-analysis_final_1.pdf (wordpress.com)

 

“Our study is, to the extent of our knowledge, the first that has used BFAST to generate fPAR derivatives to explore the link between feral herbivore impacts on the phenology of vegetation.”

 

Again a study done on the impact of all herbivores, where horses were present but not necessarily the cause of the damage. Deer and in fact pigs again would also be present in these areas!

 

Assessing the Impacts of Feral Horses on the Bogong High Plains, Victoria (amazonaws.com)

 

 

Again only observation study assuming that anywhere that horses were present, that horses were doing any damage seen! Any one of all the wildlife population in this area could be the cause of any damage seen!