Call for cull of wild horses in Australia’s Kimberley region

Wild horses graze at Lake Gregory.
A wild horse grazes at Lake Gregory.

Farmers are calling for a cull of wild horses living around Lake Gregory in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.

A long-time campaigner for the horses, Libby Lovegrove, described the plan as barbaric.

The horses in the region have lived under a cloud for years, with advocates, pastoralists and state officials at odds over the best way forward in managing the animals.

The Pastoralists and Graziers Association of Western Australia is now calling for Lands Minister Brendon Grylls to immediately start an aerial cull of the horses on two pastoral leases, Lake Gregory and Billiluna, in the east Kimberley.

“The Kimberley pastoral industry is facing an economic, environmental and animal welfare catastrophe unless there is an immediate cull on feral horses at Lake Gregory,” association president Rob Gillam said.

“The high number of feral horses, which some have estimated is as high as 9000, is impacting on the biodiversity and cultural values of the Lake Gregory wetlands through overgrazing, trampling and nutrient runoff.

“And with the upcoming wet season there is a major risk of these horses being bogged and suffering a slow and agonizing death, as was the case last year when more than 100 feral horses perished on neighbouring Balgo Downs under similar circumstances.”

Gillam argued that aerial culling was the most humane way to deal with the issue.

“Previous decisions to initiate such controls were stopped through ministerial handballing following pressure from animal rights activists, many of whom may have never set foot on a pastoral station and seen the damage that these pests do.”

Gillam said Lake Gregory and Billiluna were active pastoral stations under the control of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs. As pastoral lessees, they had a legislated responsibility to control declared pests on their property, he said.

The minister in charge of the leases had to arrange an immediate aerial cull “before this situation becomes uncontrollable”.

“The pastoral industry, the environment and most importantly the horses can no longer afford to suffer through continued ministerial indifference.”

Gillam said his association supported an aerial cull by professional aerial platform shooters in accordance with strict conditions and monitoring.

However, Lovegrove, from the group Wild Horses Kimberley, told ABC that the proposal did not make sense.

“It’s just a barbaric act of cruelty.”

She said stallions could be gelded and mares treated with long-term contraceptives.

“Nobody’s tried to manage them. They’ve just let them breed up and breed up, and then they go out and shoot them. It’s just totally barbaric.”

Lovegrove has also called into question the number of wild horses in the area, telling local media the numbers described by the association were “wildly inflated”.

Lake Gregory is a 100km-wide freshwater lake formed from the Sturt Creek, which has its origins in the Northern Territory. The area is considered a wetland of national and international importance.

Advocates had hoped that preservation of the lake, as well as management of the horses, would create interest from eco-tourism companies to invest in the area, using the horses, remarkable birdlife, Walmajarri history and culture, and the lake as tourist attractions.

The wild horses include palominos, paints and cremellos; and there are Arab bloodlines.


3 thoughts on “Call for cull of wild horses in Australia’s Kimberley region

  • October 15, 2013 at 10:08 am

    Taking a page from the US’ maniacal Bureau of Land Mismanagement, these ranchers want something for nothing. Nice how they want citizens to pay for their dirty work, just to increase their own personal wealth.

    Do not fall prey to the BS of “too many”. Horses completely control their herd size given their resources. Human beings should be so smart.

  • October 16, 2013 at 5:31 am

    What a disgusting plan. Ask them to research Karen Sussman’s work on wild horses. The horses will rgulate themselves. If they are overgrang, it is as a result of pressure from other dometic species and fencing. To cause devastating death and leave them to rot on the ground is unthinkably brutal. Please find a better way. The desires of the “pastoral and grazing association” are not always the best thought out and frankly, drive every society to rash and callous decision. The end result is pitiful for the animals and those who love them, but profit and more manipulation for those who advocate such deadly activities. It is a war, a war of those who love the horses and those who hate them. Those who love them want life for all. It is possible and we all know it.

  • October 31, 2013 at 1:05 am

    These beautiful horses were brought to Australia for humans to use years ago and when they were not needed were dumped in the bush. The media, farmers and government have inflated the numbers, it is not possible for there to be that many horses there. Now greedy and cruel farmers want to get rid of them by aerial shooting which is barbaric and they will die in agony. They have the guts to say that this is a humane way for the horses to die. I’m sure they’d say different if they were the ones being hunted and shot down.
    My family and I do not need a cruel and heartless government which allows this to happen.
    Bad luck to you all I hope you lose your place in government!
    My family and I won’t vote for you for sure! We need Labour Party in WA.


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