MOUNTAIN Cattlemen are angry with the state government’s announcement that it wants to remove all brumbies from the Bogong High Plains.
Mountain Cattlemen’s Association of Victoria president Graeme Stoney, said the Bogong High Plains were vast and iconic, and there was just a small mob of brumbies (less than 100) that ran there.
Mr Stoney claimed they caused minimal impact, but were a significant part of the plains’ heritage.
“With any debate about public land there should be a balance, and keeping the small mob on the plains should be part of that balanced management for cultural, heritage and tourism reasons,” he said.
“The Bogong High Plains are one of the few places in the park that the visiting public can gain a glimpse of the brumbies, and such an experience is very exciting and rewarding, even to hardened and experienced bush people.”
Mr Stoney said his association had supported the need to reduce numbers of horses in other parts of the Alpine Park, such as near the New South Wales border where numbers were increasing to levels where the environment was affected.
“That area is mostly closed up to the public, so glimpses of horses are rare,” he said.
“It is interesting that the government has chosen to introduce emotional language, naming the brumbies “feral horses” to justify this extermination of a cultural icon in the Bogongs.
“If it was good enough for Banjo Patterson, Elyne Mitchell, Jackie French and Alison Lester to write about the brumby, it’s good enough for modern day Victoria to continue to call them brumbies.
Mr Stoney said Victorians were “losing enough of our history and traditions to please minority groups as it is”.
But Parks Victoria maintains horse numbers in the Alpine National Park are at “critical levels” and they cause serious damage to the sensitive alpine environment, including endangered native alpine wildlife and plant species.
The Protection of the Alpine National Park — Feral Horse Strategic Action Plan 2018-2021 has been in development for more than two years in consultation with horse, community, environmental and cultural stakeholder groups.
Almost 1000 submissions were received, Parks Victoria saying the “overwhelming majority” expressed their support in managing the feral horse population.
The three-year program will involve the primary control technique of passive trapping, with rehoming of the feral horses to be the main priority.
Parks Victoria says it will work closely with its partners to achieve a targeted increase to about 400 feral horses to be captured and rehomed each year during the program’s duration.
“This program will be monitored closely for effectiveness in controlling feral horse numbers and reducing their impacts on the fragile Alpine National Park,” it states on its website.
The Protection of the Alpine National Park — Feral Horse Strategic Action Plan 2018-2021 is available at engage.vic.gov.au/alpine-national-park-feral-horse-strategic-action-plan