Brumby rumble between ecologists and lawmakers

A brumby is a feral horse of Australia.

Horses were brought to Australia but eventually were released when arid conditions made them difficult to care for and mechanization lessened farmers’ need for them.  The most recent counts estimate that there are nearly half a million brumbies on the continent with the herd growing as much as 20% per year.

800px-Tumbarumba_Brumby_groupThis presents Australia with a dilemma – these invasive horses are causing a lot of damage to the environment, including deforestation and erosion problems – but a lot of people think the horses are beautiful creatures and represent a significant historical and cultural heritage to the country.  So what to do?

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) has come up with a plan to lethally cull the herds of New South Wales down to about 10% of their current size and maintain the herds (or “mobs” as they are called there) at those levels by lethal culling.

That’s probably a euphemism for something like  “shoot the horses from helicopters.”

But The Guardian reported yesterday, that the Government of New South Wales in Southeast Australia declared that they would not be culling brumbies regardless of what the RSPCA suggests.  Instead, they would try to control the horses through trapping and relocation combined with an advertising program to encourage people to adopt them.

??? Trapping and relocating ???  an invasive species of half a million individuals with a population growth of 20% per year ???

RSPCA responds, that an earlier study has already shown that “trapping and rehoming was not an effective non-lethal means of population control.”

“The outcome for 70% of trapped horses was long-distance transport and slaughter in an abattoir or knackery, with only 30% of horses being ‘adopted’ for domestication…”


Categories: Conservation, Nature