Vets conduct study on aerial horse-culling operation

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Horse carcasses around a dry waterhole in central Australia in January 2013. The image was released by the Central Land Council to highlight the need for a brumby cull.
Horse carcasses around a dry waterhole in central Australia in January 2013. The image was released by the Central Land Council to highlight the need for a brumby cull.

An animal welfare study has been conducted in Australia by two veterinarians to assess whether aerial culling is a humane method to reduce wild horse numbers.

The veterinarians used a May cull of 3500 brumbies in inland Australia for the study. The animals were shot from two helicopters over five days at Tempe Downs station, about 300 kilometres southwest of Alice Springs.

Sam Rando, from the Central Land Council, which ordered the cull, said the vets assessed the shooting of over 2000 horses, and performed autopsies on about 100 to complete the study.

Australian broadcaster ABC  reported Rando as saying: “The average time to death was eight seconds and 58 percent of those 2000-odd horses died instantaneously.

“They also measured the pursuit time – that’s the time that the horses respond to the distant sound of helicopters approaching them – and the average time was 73 seconds.”

Rando said 97 percent of the animals were shot in one of the three target areas – the cranium, thorax and neck.

The vets, he said, reported a zero wounding rate – in which the animals were shot but survived.

The study was undertaken in collaboration with the Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife Commission and a Melbourne-based ecological business at a cost of about $A40 a head, the ABC reported.

The Central Land Council is a statutory authority covering an area of 750,000 square kilometres in the southern half of the Northern Territory.

Tempe Downs Station is part of the huge area under the jurisdiction of the council, comprising 90 Aboriginal people elected from communities in the southern half of the state.

The council’s director, David Ross, argued that culls were necessary on humanitarian and environmental grounds, and before the aerial operation had released images showing the dire situation at water sources.

“We have an enormous problem with feral animals – horses, donkeys, and camels which are degrading the country and dying in their thousands due to lack of food and water,” he said at the time.

“The destruction of waterholes in particular has a profound effect on native animals.

“There are about 10,000 feral horses suffering terrible and slow deaths and destroying the country for years to come.

“The damage is catastrophic. There is no motive to decrease their numbers due to competition with pastoral activities because they are on unstocked Aboriginal land.

“The areas we deal with are remote and vast – thousands of square kilometres – with no infrastructure such as yards and little access in the way of roads,” he said.

Horse groups condemned the cull, including the Waler Horse Society of Australia (WHSA).

The Waler is a versatile and hardy breed of riding horse developed from horses brought to the Australian colonies in the 19th century.

Many of the horses around Tempe Downs are descended from Waler stock.

President Elizabeth Jennings launched an online petition opposing the cull, which garnered 24,000 supporters.

“Horses have played a vital role in Australia’s exploration, survival and development and are an essential element of the Australian Heritage,” she said.

“The WHSA argues that wild horses have a historical validity in Australia.

Jennings said it was accepted that a percentage of Tempe Downs horses needed to be culled due to excessive numbers, age and injury. “However, we believe it is necessary to adopt a range of population management strategies which have long-term sustainability and offer ongoing population management in preference to intermittent aerial culling.

“The WHSA proposes that Government funding be directed into the development and implementation of sustainable long-term population management strategies.”

12 thoughts on “Vets conduct study on aerial horse-culling operation

  • August 15, 2013 at 5:06 am
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    OMG! What is wrong with these people? There are far more humane ways to control the horses without killing them!!

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    • August 15, 2013 at 4:02 pm
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      Shame on Australia!!

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  • August 15, 2013 at 7:23 am
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    Australians are disgusting bastards to do this to the wild horses. Where is the outcry? Of course, Americans aren’t far behind with the evil BLM.

    Intelligent people can find better solutions than this. This is pure evil. I hope the people who made the decision die horribly themselves.

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  • August 15, 2013 at 8:18 am
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    OMG!!! What is the matter with you people? I have never in my life read such diabolical treatment and lazy unethical behavior toward horses in my life.

    I hope everyone involved in this mass murder that was caused by complete and utter IGNORANCE rot in hell and may there be a pox upon your houses.

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  • August 15, 2013 at 8:20 am
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    What a lie!!!

    The council’s director, David Ross, argued that culls were necessary on humanitarian and environmental grounds, and before the aerial operation had released images showing the dire situation at water sources.

    “We have an enormous problem with feral animals – horses, donkeys, and camels which are degrading the country and dying in their thousands due to lack of food and water,” he said at the time.

    “The destruction of waterholes in particular has a profound effect on native animals.

    “There are about 10,000 feral horses suffering terrible and slow deaths and destroying the country for years to come.”

    Reply
  • August 16, 2013 at 12:16 am
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    We have a whaler x ourselves and she is beautiful. To see this is sad.

    However, to those who just criticize this culling I suggest you say nothing unless you can come up with a better truly workable solution. A slow death from thirst and starvation is that the better alternative?

    This was necessary and probably even more horses has to be culled and I am a horse lover and has been for all my life.

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  • August 19, 2013 at 3:54 pm
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    I am chairman of new group in Snowy region,Snowy Mountains Brumby Sustainability and Management Group, formed to stop aerial culling of snowy brumby and implement permanent long term management plan for snowy brumbies,need 25000 signatures for petition ,web site not up yet, petitions can be downloaded from- hoofs2010incoroporated.com or hvba.com, needya help,pls d/load,sign,spread around and return,can be contacted on 0429030148

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  • August 20, 2013 at 3:00 am
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    This is dispicable. I will never, ever travel to Austalia First I see racehorses being shot, now this. What’s wrong with you people. Please sign petition to stop culling.

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  • August 20, 2013 at 10:03 pm
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    This is down right cruel and such wicked behaver’ how some people can do this is beyond belief, and they must be sick in the head maybe they need to be shot,these poor horses don’t deserve such treatment they didant ask to be born, there are far more people on this earth than all the horses put together are they going to start to cull the human race, as they are the cruellest race of all species. some people need to go back in history and see what horses done for us in the passed and still are doing, with out them this world would be a much sadder place.

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  • August 22, 2013 at 3:01 am
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    cattle And Sheep Ranchers Again. A Rotten Bunch On any Contingent.

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  • September 4, 2013 at 3:45 pm
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    After hearing about all the flooding in Australia, one wonders if the waterholes were fenced off for cattle and sheep….. and the wildlife, horses included, kept out to die.

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  • October 13, 2013 at 10:24 pm
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    Alan Lanyon,Snowy Mountains Brumby Sustainability and Management Group- see comments above re petition THE ONLY WAY WE WILL BE ABLE TO INFLUENCE GOVERNMENT DECISION-MAKING IS BY SHEER WEIGHT OF NUMBERS-PLS DOWNLOAD THE PETITION AND RETURN TO ME.

    Reply

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