The NSW Government’s ambitious plan to protect Kosciuszko National Park and reduce the number of feral horses will require permanent, well-resourced National Parks and Wildlife Services staff.
“Conservation measures must always be lead by science, not emotions or nostalgia for long gone highland cattlemen that existed in Banjo Patterson’s poems,” said Stewart Little, general secretary of Public Service Association.
“The science is in and it tells us our rare alpine landscape is being eroded by 100,000s hooves. Feral horses are trampling rare alpine grasses and fragile creek beds, destroying the habitats of the corroboree frog, the Reiks freshwater crayfish, and the alpine spiny crayfish.
“All up, there are five distinct ecosystems in Australia’s alpine region under threat from the feral pests which are genetically no different to your typical domesticated horse.”
The union, which represents park rangers and NPWS staff, says the plan by the government to reduce numbers is yet to come with a clear employment plan. Currently NPWS remove between 200 and 300 feral horses each year. Ro meet the government’s target and reduce numbers from 14,000 to 3,000 by 2027 that would require about 2,000 feral horses to be culled each year – a significant increase in demand on the exisiting workforce of five staff.
“Based on advice from our members, who’ve spent decades working in and around Kosciuszko, you need about 40 permanent staff to properly deliver on the ambitious target.
“We also need a guarantee that they’ll be supported to do this work – the debate has become toxic and they should be safe to go to work and deliver on the NSW government’s plan.”
“Everyone, on all sides of this debate, ultimately love this beautiful landscape, they want to see it cared for want to see it protected and the horses treated humanely. But trapping and rehousing isn’t a viable longterm plan, and as the population continues to explode it’s putting strain on the environment, and in turn hurting the feral horses.
“It’s time to fix this ecological disaster, with a sensible, well resource and science-based plan lead by the experts at NPWS.”