Save Kosciuszko National Park: Do not protect horses in a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve

Save Kosciuszko National Park: Do not protect horses in a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve

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Kosciuszko National Park is one of Australia's biodiversity hotspots. In 1977, UNESCO declared this beautiful and unique part of south-east Australia a World Biosphere Reserve. Recently, horses were introduced into Australia and Kosciuszko National Park, a landscape that has evolved separately from heavy, hard hoofed herbivores for millions of years.

While introduced horses (affectionately referred to by some as brumbies) are magnificent creatures, their beauty does not negate the damage they do to Kosciuszko National Park.

The new 'Brumby Bill' seeks to ensure the protection of introduced horses in Kosciuszko National Park for heritage values. This would severely limit horse population management to methods such as trapping and relocating, allowing the population to increase exponentially. The protection of an ecologically damaging introduced species like horses in a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve is unprecedented. This bill goes against substantial scientific advice on horse management and will be disastrous for the many threatened native species in the Park, including:

Alpine Spiny Crayfish, Riek's Crayfish, Southern Corroboree Frog, Northern Corroboree Frog, Guthega Skink, Alpine Tree Frog, She-oak Skink, Alpine Water Skink, Guthega Skink, Alpine Bog Skink, Broad Toothed Rat, Mountain Pygmy Possum, Anemone Buttercup.

Further, entire Endangered Ecological Communities (EEC) such as Alpine Bogs and Associated Fens, are already being irreparably damaged by introduced horses.

What I ask of people who support the 'Brumby Bill': please, think deeply about the wider ramifications of what the bill is proposing. Nobody is trying to, or can, take away the connection you have with horses, but please recognise that so much will be lost from the Snowies for the sake of two species: horses and the people who venerate them. It is not fair that thousands of native and endemic species must suffer due to a recently arrived charismatic megafauna, no matter how special it is.

To the Minister for the Environment and the Minister for Heritage, The Hon. Gabrielle Upton: Do not allow horses to be protected in Kosciuszko National Park, one of the most valuable natural assets of Australia. This includes its rich biodiversity, unique landscapes, water resources, and deep cultural significance to the high-country's First People. Please, please protect it by allowing the humane and effective management of introduced horse populations.

Image: The horse laying down didn't survive the night. When I returned the next day, the two remaining, emaciated horses were consuming the intestines of the deceased horse. These horses suffered tremendously on the mountain that winter.