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‘Spiralling out of control’: NSW failing to remove feral horses quick enough

“The plan will outline how we intend to protect the ecological values of the park by reducing the impact of wild horses, while also acknowledging their heritage value,” Mr Kean said. “Our latest count estimates the population of wild horses in the park is 14,000 – a number that is almost universally accepted as too many.”

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Advice prepared by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service for Minister Kean noted that just over a third of Kosciuszko National Park had been affected by the 2019-20 bushfires, one of the documents showed. It called for the use of “experienced and reputable New Zealand wild horse mustering personnel to provide advice on aerial mustering in the park”.

“However, historical rehoming rates have always been low due to the lack of demand and/or lack of suitable homes,” the March 2020 document prepared by the Parks Service said. “As such, horses that cannot be rehomed will be shot in trap yards (where this is the most humane available method), with carcasses sent to a knackery, or transported live to a knackery.”

Labor environment spokeswoman Penny Sharpe said the draft plan’s consultation period meant it could be months more before it could be finalised and necessary action taken to curb horse numbers.

She pointed to the past week’s statement by Minister Kean that the government had identified 93 threatened species as so-called assets of intergenerational significance, and 221 sites where they are found. Kosciuszko National Park counts 34 of those species and 37 such sites.

“It just shows the declaration was an empty announcement that will do nothing to save threatened species,” Ms Sharpe said. “The time for talking about these issues is well over – either you’re going to save threatened species or you’re not.”

A spokesman for the Parks Service said the draft plan had taken input from the Community Advisory Committee and the Scientific Advisory Panel, and the public would have at least 30 days to comment.

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