Brumby activists plan legal challenge to cull
A plan by Parks Victoria to remove about 120 feral horses from a highly sensitive area of the Alpine National Park could be in jeopardy, with a pro-feral horse organisation taking legal action to try to prevent a trapping program this month.
A group called the Australian Brumby Alliance planned to lodge an application for an injunction with the Federal Court today to stop the removal of horses from the Bogong High Plains, president Jill Pickering told The Australian.
Ms Pickering said removal of the small mob of horses on the Bogong High Plains would “exterminate Bogong’s irreplaceable Australian living social heritage”, and was inconsistent with the government’s management plan to acknowledge “postsettlement values”.
The move comes as pro-feral horse supporters in Victoria seek to capitalise on recent NSW government legislation that protects feral horses in Kosciuszko National Park from culling, based on cultural heritage values.
The small, localised population in the Bogong High Plains is due to be removed as part of Parks Victoria’s Feral Horse Strategic Action Plan 2018-2021. A much larger population of more than 2500 horses in Victoria’s Eastern Alps will be reduced by up to 400 a year.
The horses will be trapped in yards and either transported for rehoming or euthanased in the trap yards.
Deakin University professor in terrestrial ecology Don Driscoll calls the bid for an injunction part of a growing movement within feral horse lobby groups.
“The precedent set by the NSW legislation suggests that feral horses in the wild have enormous heritage value, and that’s emboldening people with their own local population of feral horses to claim that their horses have heritage value as well,” Professor Driscoll said.
“But the claim that these particular horses have special heritage value is not based on evidence. Feral horses across Australia are genetically the same ... what’s at stake are native species and ecosystems.”
He said the plan to remove the small population on the Bogong High Plains was sensible.
“Because the population is small you can remove them at this early stage before the population becomes enormous like in the Eastern Alps.”
Victorian National Parks Association spokesman Phil Ingamells said the news was infuriating. “We can protect horses elsewhere.”
Parks Victoria was contacted but declined to comment.