Wan­der­ing brumbies con­cern

Shepparton News - Country News - - EUROA SHOW 2018 -

Barmah Brumby Preser­va­tion Group mem­bers Gerry Moor, Mur­ray Wil­la­ton and Kaye Moor.

Driv­ers on the roads near Barmah Na­tional Park have been warned to be­ware of drought-hit brumbies wan­der­ing roads in search of food.

Barmah Brumby Preser­va­tion Group pres­i­dent Mur­ray Wil­la­ton said en­vi­ron­men­tal flows and drought con­di­tions through­out the forest had com­bined to force the feral horses out of the park and on to nearby roads, in­clud­ing the town of Barmah.

He said five brumbies were hit and killed by a truck six weeks ago on the Pi­cola-Barmah Rd.

‘‘Horses are walk­ing out wher­ever they can — they are a ma­jor road hazard. Some­one could be se­ri­ously in­jured,’’ Mr Wil­la­ton said.

He said the wild horses were graz­ing on peo­ple’s front lawns in Barmah and a herd of about 15 brumbies was re­cently seen out­side the Barmah Ho­tel.

He crit­i­cised Parks Vic­to­ria’s man­age­ment of the park. Mur­ray Wil­la­ton said brumbies were in poor con­di­tion with a recent count show­ing 150 brumbies on 31 000 ha. Pic­tures:

‘‘Cat­tle grids have been filled in, fences have been pulled down — there’s no con­tain­ment at all,’’ Mr Wil­la­ton said.

Parks Vic­to­ria dis­trict man­ager Rachel Mur­phy said the or­gan­i­sa­tion ‘‘does not re­strict large-scale move­ment of ei­ther na­tive or in­tro­duced an­i­mals in and out of na­tional parks or re­serves’’.

‘‘As with any roads through or along­side bush­land and na­tional parks, we would en­cour­age road users to be aware of their sur­round­ings,’’ Ms Mur­phy said.

She said Parks Vic­to­ria had con­cerns about the in­creas­ing number of feral horses in Barmah Na­tional Park and was mon­i­tor­ing the pop­u­la­tion ‘‘in or­der to in­form fu­ture man­age­ment strate­gies’’.

How­ever, Mr Wil­la­ton said the park’s brumby pop­u­la­tion had re­mained stag­nant for a decade.

‘‘Our group did a count a few months ago which showed 150 brumbies liv­ing on 77 000 acres of park,’’ he said.

Mr Wil­la­ton said the re­spon­si­bil­ity of eu­thanas­ing or res­cu­ing starv­ing or in­jured brumbies had been left to group vol­un­teers.

‘‘Brumbies are in poor con­di­tion. We re­cently res­cued two foals and eu­thanased 14 adult horses be­cause they were in such poor con­di­tion,’’ he said.

Ms Mur­phy said Parks Vic­to­ria worked with Moira Shire Coun­cil to erect signs warn­ing driv­ers of the dan­ger last week­end.

Hun­gry . . . Luke He­mer

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