Brumby ac­tivists plan le­gal chal­lenge to cull

The Australian - - THE NATION - RICKY FRENCH

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.

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