Please stop shooting the horses: In defence of Australia’s brumbies

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A young brumby stallion in Kosciuzko National Park. © Craig C Downer
A young brumby stallion in Kosciuzko National Park. © Craig C Downer

Wildlife ecologist Craig C. Downer tells of his odyssey in defence of Australia’s Brumbies, and adds an urgent plea to halt plans to cull them by shooting.

From late September through early November of 2014, I came to the fabulous continent “down under” to meet its hardy Brumbies, or wild horses. Guided by some amazing Australians, both those who defended and those who managed these compelling animals, I entered wide-eyed into several regions across this vast and ancient land.

I had just become a member of the Ecological Society of Australia (ESA) and was very pleased to participate in its week-long, annual conference in Alice Springs. Here I presented a poster concerning the positive contributions Brumbies make to ecosystems and argued in their defence.

My six-week adventure turned me on to just how rigorous Australia is and to how admirable any species’ survival also is, in this character-building place. I found the Outback’s Aborigines native wisdom intriguing and the rugged Snowy River horsemen vibrant and engaging. Also, the biologists who are dedicating their lives to learning about and preserving the great variety of life forms here presented me with valuable insights and important challenges. And my group the wild Brumby defenders were as positively impressive as any. They seemed very soulful yet strongly connected to Mother Earth. As in an ecosystem with its various species, each group was answering its own special calling, defending what its own history and experience had prepared it for. About each one, there was something respectably unique and, for this very reason, indispensably related.

Craig Downer at Uluru in Australia's Northern Territory.
Craig Downer at Uluru in Australia’s Northern Territory. © Mae Lee Sun

In coming to Australia, I felt I also had a special calling, a reason for belonging in this place and time.  For certain my coming was a response to the horses themselves, as I possess a special affinity for these extraordinary presences.

Seems like yesterday that I was growing up with my fine “mustanger” companion, a tall, deep-chestnut stallion named Poco with a white star on his forehead. We shared many great adventures in the impressive mountains and vast deserts of Nevada and California, discovering enchanting places and encountering their very astounding inhabitants, each a special presence in its own right with a unique story to convey and an indispensable role to play. Poco and his kin the wild horses (which he always greeted with irrepressible enthusiasm) taught me so much and had a major hand in shaping my life from a tender age forward. These characters instilled in me a profound feeling for life’s true meaning including the importance of its natural freedom and of each living kind’s and individual’s inseverable relation to each and every other. In un-premeditated fashion, I learned the holy meaning of “Mitakuye Oyasin,” which is Lakota for: “We are all related.” This refers not just to fellow people but to all life – all beings! I profoundly sensed it was Poco’s prayer, and it became my prayer, and together we sang it strongly as we wandered far and wide, as free as the wind blows, yet with an uncanny direction we also sensed and shared.

A brumby family by the Snowy River.
A brumby family by the Snowy River. © Craig C Downer

Thanks to this start, as I grew older, I continued to seek my way toward what I deemed to be greater truth and justice, not just for myself and my kind, but for the horses and the whole natural life community with whom I identified. All this “Great Mystery,” as the Indians call life, deserves much more respect in today’s society; while not forgetting our importance as humans, we should take none of the other species for granted. And our human value is greatly defined by our relation to the Great Rest of Life.

There were certain premonitions that confirmed my acceptance of an invitation to come to Australia and become involved in Brumby defence. Suffice it to say: These were amazing!

During my career as an ecologist, I have grown acutely aware of what is happening to Earth’s shared life community. And my speciality has become the mammalian order Perissodactyla, which includes the Horse, Tapir and Rhino families. This ancient order arose shortly after the demise of the Dinosaurs caused by a giant meteorite that struck the Earth about 65 million years ago, wiping out a large percentage of the planet’s living creatures. This group of herbivores have played a major role for many millions of years in various continents and still do in many places today, yet their position is now quite precarious. In fact, they are an endangered order with 13 of 17 extant species classified as Threatened or Endangered on the Red Data List of the IUCN Species Survival Commission, to which I belong. I offer a PowerPoint on these redoubtable animals along with a moving speech: “The World’s Endangered Species Today Present a Crisis of Conscience for Humanity.”

Brumbies from Lake Gregory in Western Australia.
Brumbies from Lake Gregory in Western Australia. © Craig C Downer

In short, I’ve done my homework and am ready to defend the horses and all Perissodactyla. Though disappearing, they are truly valuable and most needed in regard to restoring the Whole of Life, and no species is better poised to do this than the modern-day horse (Equus caballus). They are restorers of balance in ecosystems, complementing ruminants and replenishing overgrazed soils, turning them into “living sponges” that equitably release life-giving water throughout the year. They are amazing gardeners who sow a great variety of seeds far and wide and provide them with fertile beds to enable their successful germination through their humus-enriching droppings. It must be understood that Perissodactyls possess a different digestive system from ruminants, which include most herbivores raised or encouraged by humans: cattle, sheep and goats for consumption; deer and other cervids for hunters, etc. The ruminants, usually cloven-hoofed, possess a multi-stomach, cud-chewing process that more thoroughly extracts nutrients from their forage. Ruminant droppings offer much less nutrient value to soils and to food chains and webs than do the droppings of the horses (tapirs, rhinos, and others including elephants).

Simply stated, in the world of nature, horses are top-notch humus creators and intact seed dispersers. They are valuable gardeners in their natural habitat. They practice patchiness of grazing that leaves islands to set seed and they heal the wounds of erosion and toxic pollution and in many other ways restore the biodiversity and with it life’s resilience that too often an inconsiderate humanity has taken away. The horses do all this – if so allowed. Though they do not have the same deep evolutionary roots in Australia as do the marsupial mammals such as kangaroos, their roots are quite deep on Earth and they have compatibly lived alongside marsupials in South America and elsewhere for millions of years. They can harmoniously adapt and co-exist with more deeply native Australian fauna and flora. We people just have to give them the chance to show us how it’s done, rather than negatively prejudging them.

During this era of Global Warming, it’s crucially important to recognize the critical life-saving value of Brumbies in mitigating and even preventing catastrophic wildfires. And I need not remind you of how devastating these have recently been. The post-gastric digestive system of horses permits them to survive on drier, coarser vegetation without over-taxing their metabolism and their great mobility permits them to reach steep, rocky and remote places where fires often start but where they can eliminate excessive vegetation. Precisely this dry vegetation provides the tinder that makes possible destructive wildfires that a heating atmosphere is exacerbating. Many of Australia’s human-altered ecosystems need the horses as natural gardeners to heal and become balanced and functional again. Imported deer have had a major detrimental impact on Australia’s parklands and on the country’s native species, especially the marsupials.

A log and pole fence in the Pryor Mountain Range in Montana. Craig C Downer

As concerns those parks and reserves where officials and conservationists work to preserve the original, pre-European species and their habitats, I recommend various ways of excluding the Brumbies while permitting other species to enter and exit. I have observed how effective the triangular-shaped, 6’-high, log-and-pole fences (such as are employed in the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range in Montana) keep horses out of certain areas. These could be used in certain areas of the Australian Alps and would not be hard to erect and maintain. Native Eucalyptus, or Gum, trees would seem perfect for these. Also, means of “positive enforcement” could encourage the Brumbies to stay in certain areas where they find their needs met. And ways of “adverse conditioning” that are not too harsh yet still effective could keep Brumbies away from pristine nature reserves or human habitations. Surely many Brumby supporters would happily implement these measures to preserve pre-European nature sanctuaries as well as naturally living Brumbies in adjacent areas. As a wildlife ecologist who has extensively studied wild horses and mountain tapirs, I would welcome the opportunity to help realize this life-respecting, all-stakeholders-honoring, up-to-date and non-violent plan.

Today, we must ponder the serious dangers posed by Global Climate Change. This has been caused by an accumulation of heat-trapping gases and the destruction of naturally balanced ecosystems. This matter of life or death challenges us all; we mustn’t remain petty-minded and hung-up on destructive habits and traditions. We must question how we live and its effects on the Great Rest of Life and not fail to respond to the great challenge before us. For to fail would betray the Greater Family of Life to which we belong and that which supports and sustains us.

No such betrayal could be more serious than for humans to throw the noble horse “under the bus”. These animals have done so much for us: Isn’t it high time we do something truly good for them? Like letting them truly be themselves, live freely and naturally and count on a sufficient natural home wherein to realize their special place and role. This is to be a restorer and a healer of life on Earth and relates both to life’s physical and spiritual dimensions. In bringing ourselves to honor horses’ restoring and unifying role in relation to the Great Rest of Life, we humans would overcome what most damages our own kind today: Our selfishness!

I hope you will ponder my message. It has welled up from deep within and represents both what I think and feel and lessons learned from a whole lifetime. And while it certainly involves my appreciation of those highly evolved and benign presences called horses, it relates to a caring vision for All of Life and for what remains in store for our beautifully alive planet. Call me a harbinger, for I do believe there will come a time when mutual understanding, harmony, peace, freedom and even joy will be more purely and fully realized and this Earth shall become a real Garden of Eden, a true and welcoming, even loving home wherein all beings shall be wonderfully fulfilled and in ways we have just begun to imagine.

Kosciuzko National Park guide and brumby advocate Peter Cochran with the horses we rode to see the area's wild horses.
Kosciuzko National Park guide and brumby advocate Peter Cochran with the horses we rode to see the area’s wild horses. © Craig C Downer
A plan to save the Brumbies and save Australia

I urge adoption of the following actions/policies in order to save the wonderful Brumbies and to save the Australia that has come to be, with all its diverse yet ever related entities. The solution lies in discovering how to harmonize Australia’s present elements, places, species, individuals and so forth. And we must recognize that each Brumby possesses a life and an individuality, just as we each do, and that, however we appear to be different, in essence, we are the same and ever related.

  1. Immediately prohibit the shooting of Brumbies in Alpine, Bogong, Barmah and Kosciuzko National Parks.
  1. Abandon plans to remove all Brumbies. Instead, manage for genetically viable, ecologically integrated and long-term sustainable populations that are allowed to self-stabilize their numbers through the conscientious implementation of a Reserve Design approach to their conservation and that of the ecosystem they inhabit.
  1. Begin right away with an independent census of all Brumbies living in the above-named parks. In all of these parks except Barmah, vast habitats were recently scorched by catastrophic wildfires, now increasing due to Global Warming. Millions of plants and animals perished, many excruciatingly in the flames and including many Brumbies. Yet there has been no census of the Brumbies after these terrible fires. Most probably there has been a major decrease in the Brumby population in and around these parks. There needs to be a serious re-evaluation of this situation, including the Brumbies’ major role in fire mitigation/prevention especially by reducing fuel load and also in restoring burned areas.
  1. An independent, objective study should be conducted concerning the effects of the removal of Brumbies from the ecosystem. Horses have major beneficial contributions. If they are suddenly removed, many species, including natives that have adapted to the presence of horses, could suffer. And the critical role that Brumbies play in wildfire mitigation and even prevention must not be ignored, especially today, nor their role in the restoration of burned areas.

    Brumbies peering out from Ghost Gum Forest of Lake Gregory in Western Australia.
    Brumbies peering out from Ghost Gum Forest of Lake Gregory in Western Australia. © Craig C Downer
  1. Independent professional studies should differentiate impacts to the ecosystem that are caused by the various species present, including deer, pigs, rabbits, foxes, wild dogs, domestic cattle and sheep and Brumbies, among other species brought in by Europeans since 1788 and the First Fleet of colonizers. My assessment indicates that Brumbies are being unfairly targeted for blame while many of the other species are being ignored or let off lightly as to their impacts, even though these are major. Also, we should beware of lumping species together without recognizing their separate niches, roles, effects and impacts. In this connection, the positive ecological benefits of Brumbies should be honored when plainly proven. In other words, observations, factual in-field measurements, methodologies employed, photographs/videos and other means of analysis should not be interpreted in a deliberately biased manner, filtered and distorted so as to discredit the Brumbies. It is critically important that a truly objective team of qualified investigators be brought in, perhaps from outside Australia.
  1. Brumbies should be considered holistically, as integral components of many of the ecosystems they inhabit, not arbitrarily treated as misfits, especially when facts reveal they benefit plants and animals, soils and aquifers, and the community of life as a whole. Such proven benefits should not be blindly ignored, and the possibility that they actually benefit deeply rooted Australian native species should not be arbitrarily dismissed. The potential for a new balance of species in Australia that is more in tune with current conditions and historic circumstances should be given serious consideration. This important work The New Wild: Why Invasive Species Will Be Nature’s Salvation gives further justification.

    Brumbies coexist with cattle grazing within or very near a national park in the Australian alps – but the latter are not being targeted for removal. © Craig C Downer
  1. Strong social and cultural values associated with Brumbies as treasured presences and a living heritage should not be belittled or ignored. To ignore the integral part these horses have played in the lives of so many people, both today and for many generations past, as well as their own intrinsic worth as unique sentient beings, would be callous and insensitive. An ecologically benign, mutualistic symbiosis between and among people, Australian flora and fauna and the Brumbies can be achieved given our openness to this possibility. This mutualism is both practical and related to our experienced quality of life that involves a hard-to-pin-down and fence-in ethos that has grown from many generations of living and interacting by Australians of all kinds. This is a special culture linked to nature. Though seemingly set apart, it is related to all the rest of the world. And its very subtlety makes life worth living for those deep into it.
  1. A broader consultation by Parks Victoria and other National Parks and Wildlife officials, conservationists, academics, elected representatives and others involved should take place with local communities and Brumby-advocating organizations and individuals concerning conservation management plans.
  1. Deserved recognition of the current “Victoria Heritage Brumby Act” petition and the values and populations it represents should be given. Ignoring popular choice concerning the Brumbies could lead to serious rancor and social unrest as concerns this important quality-of-life and cultural identification issue.
  1. If trapping and removal of some portion of the Brumbies is decided to be justified in certain areas, this should not occur during the breeding and foaling seasons for humane reasons.
  1. Increased support for rehoming of Brumbies over extended periods for persons willing to rehome, as indicated on interest forms, should be the adopted policy. No inflexible quota numbers should impede this process, e.g. the minimum of five horses to be adopted in New South Wales decreases many opportunities for rehoming.
  1. Serious consideration of constructing Log-and-Pole, triangular-shaped fences that exclude horses from certain more pristine natural habitat should be given. This works well in other areas of the world and still allows other animals to pass through.

 

A pioneer-descended Nevadan, as a boy Craig Downer fell in love with the natural world, oft while riding his best friend Poco. This passion led him to pursue a career in wildlife ecology and to earn an A.B. in Biology with specialization in Ecology from the University of California-Berkeley, an M.S. from the University of Nevada-Reno, and to attain Ph.D. candidature at Durham University in Britain. His studies and observations of wild horses led him to work with Wild Horse Annie in insisting that the true intent of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act be implemented throughout America. He served as a Peace Corps wildlife ecologist in Colombia and is the first biologist to have successfully captured, radio-collared and tracked the endangered Mountain, or Andean, Tapir as part of his doctorate studies, His organization, the Andean Tapir Fund, continues to successfully defend and protect this dwindling species, along with its diminishing cloud forest and paramo habitats. The Andean Tapir Fund has now adopted within its mandate “preserving and restoring all of the Perissodactyls in and together with their natural habitats including all species within the Horse, Tapir and Rhino families.” Craig is a member of the IUCN Species Survival Commission and his organization works to save all members of the Horse, Tapir and Rhino families (Order Perissodactyla) in their natural habitats. Visit Craig’s website.

Craig C. Downer

Craig C. Downer, Wildlife Ecologist, A.B. (UCB), M.S. (UNR), Ph.D. C. (U. Durham-UK) P.O. Box 456, Minden, NV 89423 USA. Cell. (775) 901-2094

62 thoughts on “Please stop shooting the horses: In defence of Australia’s brumbies

  • June 10, 2020 at 4:49 pm
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    I support your views. We can pretend that by killing Brumbys and still mining, building, clearing land for agriculture we are solving ecological problems, but it’s not solving anything, it is cruel and unnecessary. The funds spent on these useless culls are better spent elsewhere. Brumbys deserve living in Australia no less than humans, clearly the population of both species should not get out of hand, but extermination or population control shooting, especially during breeding season is very wrong.

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    • June 15, 2020 at 4:21 pm
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      HOW DARE YOU ATTACK MOTHER NATURE, ATTACK YOURSELFFF!@ YOU ARE NOT GODD!!! HAVE HUMANITY AND NATURE IN YOUR HEART…..THEY HAVE THE RIGHT TO LIVE, LIKE U DOOO……GOD INTENDED IT, IF TTHEY GO- YOUUUUUUUUU GO@!@#@!@

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      • June 21, 2020 at 5:32 pm
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        Thank you, Craig for doing all that you have to help was save the brumbys, as well as the wild horses in America. We must wake up & realize that all if life is interconnected!!

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      • July 3, 2020 at 10:28 am
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        Please do not destroy our beautiful ❤️ free spirited Brumbys

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    • June 16, 2020 at 6:20 am
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      Animals have a right to share this world with us so called humans. What gives us the right to think we can just destroy life whether it be animal or human. I have to say I’m very often ashamed to be a part of the human race. We just cannot leave our precious animal life alone. Leave these horses alone.

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    • June 27, 2020 at 9:32 am
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      Thanks so much, Maria! Yes there’s a better way to learn to share the land and freedom with our faithful companions who have been “wild” a whole lot longer than they have been “slave” and have much to contribute to our world today.

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    • July 2, 2020 at 6:37 am
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      Excellent and sound advice, Maria, and I am reminded that how we people define “a population out of hand” can be very dis-attuned to what a real sound equilibrium among the diverse and inter-complementary species in life would establish.

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      • July 2, 2020 at 9:20 am
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        Thank you Craig for posting this ! In a world where we claim to be an enlightened society, taking huge strides in many developmental areas of technological advancement, highly advanced medical procedures and ground breaking Space programs outside of our own planet, we continue to behave like savages, bloodthirsty for killing !!! Common sense is gone out with trash only to be replaced with greed . Horses are healers. They can and have healed the land they inhabit and are very capable of bringing other species back from the brink of near extinction. Their presence in nature has a unique number of positive roles to play as you so eloquently stated. This killing is barbaric……period!

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  • June 10, 2020 at 5:09 pm
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    Inhumane to kill these iconic brumbies! Do not shoot them. Let them be!!!!

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    • June 27, 2020 at 9:34 am
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      So agree, there’s a better way if only people will take the time to think and to discover how it can be a relation born of understanding and compassion, not ruthless “might makes right”.

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  • June 10, 2020 at 7:54 pm
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    I read with great interest your article about the Brumbies. This is exactly what studies in the UK have found and we use wild horses in conservation here.
    The Government in both states has been advocating incorrect scientific assessment or has made it up to them r own ends they are now on a course to destroy and kill off all the brumbies which they are determined to not only remove but kill yesterday they started shooting from helicopters please share your wisdom far and wide Wendy Lovell Victoria MP also Bill. Unfortunately I don’t know if any MP’s are in favour of Brumbies in NSW think not as things are moving at an alarming pace for their total eradication please help thank you from all of us in the UK

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    • June 27, 2020 at 9:39 am
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      That’s such a shame, such thick-skulled callousness! I will share and am sharing and also participating in the conference that Dr. Don Driscoll is presenting trying to justify total brumby elimination by culling. This webinar will be on July 2, 2020 at 7 to 8 PM from Sydney NSW Google Feral horses in the Australian Alps” to participate.

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  • June 10, 2020 at 11:15 pm
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    Please leave the horses to live their lives in peace. They do not deserve to lose their lives and their families for any reason, anyone, or anything. Please give them their lives.

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    • June 27, 2020 at 9:40 am
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      So agree. We have so much to learn from them — arrogant humans playing God!

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  • June 11, 2020 at 1:01 am
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    Thank you Mr Craig Downer. I have enjoyed reading your findings on Brumbies and I agree with almost all of it. I agree that our wild horse has a roll to play with fire intensity reduction through their grazing. But if you fence off an area so they can’t get to it and there are no native aboriginal people burning off the fire fuel then what will keep the fire fuel loads down? The Government will not because of the left green influence. Your thoughts?

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    • June 27, 2020 at 9:45 am
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      You’re welcome, Richard. Well, that’s a good point. There needs to be a careful evaluation of how the more pristine areas can be left to the more ancient life forms while at the same time not be subject to burning and destruction. It could be that the brumbies would be necessary in many areas to help greatly prevent the burning of some of these areas. This needs to be taken on a case by case basis, not just blanket judgement. We need some real comprehending, knowledgeable and visionary people who are not limited by their egos or earlier stands in order to do what’s best for the whole of life and its long-term future — including us people! I think the Aborigines could have some very valuable advice here.

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  • June 11, 2020 at 2:57 am
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    i love horses and all wildlife. i learned so much from this , and are now much better informed.this helps in my support of reform by the governments who intentionally or unintentionally strive to get rid of a large part pf our inheritance. these animals belong to the people not the government. the governments need to educate themselves before taking any drastic action

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    • June 27, 2020 at 9:53 am
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      That’s wonderful, Virginia! So gratifying that you got something valuable from my article. Believe me, I anguished on what to say on this crucial issue, for the consequences of a bloodbath would be terrible and could result in even more of a wildfire holocaust than just occurred. Yes, government officials should not be so power-mad and hung-up on earlier stands, but learn humility and openness in listening to all people including those who have lived with the Brumbies for generations, establishing a mutualistic symbiosis, as we ecologists put it. I too believe it’s just not right to treat these horses like so much garbage. Something intrinsically wrong with this approach. How would people like it if some say superior race from outer space came down and decided all of a sudden to eradicate them?

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  • June 11, 2020 at 2:19 pm
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    Thank you very much sharing all your knowledge and experience with us. We need to have these facts to reinforce our efforts to save our brumbies. Just wish our politicians and national parks would listen.

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    • June 27, 2020 at 9:55 am
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      Thanks so much, Jane. Yes, I pray they will open their hearts and minds and cancel their headlong rush to this violent and ill-considered “solution” which reminds me of the “final solution” of history, if you know what I mean.

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  • June 11, 2020 at 4:03 pm
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    https://www.chincoteague.com/pony_auction.html
    The Chincoteague Fire Dept holds an annual event to keep genetics strong & herd size steady:
    passive trap, select most willing individuals for training & sale, profit to support a sustainable trap/train/auction program ( no shooting, & no knackery is used )…. the brumby alive now have just proven their genetic strength thru natural trials of drought, fires, flood…. So, now if humans now indiscriminately wipe out entire family genetic lines is ignorant & terribly cruel. The world is watching in HORROR today as Matt Kean MP pushes his agenda to RUSH to trap K. Nat’l Park brumby & truck them to knackeries; why the rush, Matt Kean MP ? Rushing to stuff your own pockets with communist china party money deals; “Belt & Roadway Initiative?” for ski resorts ? Logging? Fossil fuel mining? Criminal stealing of National Parks 1, 2, 3. The above is a fabulous piece…. for PEACE…. may Matt Kean MP read & take it to heart.

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    • June 15, 2020 at 6:56 pm
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      How can a ecologist defend such a ecological disaster ..wake up people feral horses don’t belong in Australia’s National Parks

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      • June 27, 2020 at 7:08 pm
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        They are NOT feral! Fossils have been found that are thousands and thousands of years old.
        They, by their long lineage, their aptitude for survival and healing the land have more than justified their right to be here.

        It’s the cattle and sheep that cause the problems.
        The ranchers pay next to nothing to let those herds feed on public land and it’s the horses who pay the price.

        This MUST stop! Two foals had to be put down because of the cruel method of removing them.

        Some mares have even been hunted while actually giving birth.

        You wouldn’t treat a dog like this.

        They are our heritage and belong to the American People.
        It’s not the American West without them.

        I’m sad to hear that they are not protected in Australia either. I hope that will change for the better!

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      • July 2, 2020 at 1:41 pm
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        If you remove horses because they ‘don’t belong in National Parks’ then you must agree to remove absolutely everything else and return the regions to pre European Settlement…this includes the 7 different introduced species of birds, wasps, the 23 introduced plant species, including blackberry, deer, pigs, dogs, cats, horses, cattle, ski resorts, snowy Hydro and the water overflow that floods the valley, 2 man made dams, the proposed airfield at Jindabyne, the 112 tonnes of rubbish ski resorts send to land fill in Cobungra, human waste from resorts that overflows from refuse stations into water ways and streams, how are you planning on achieving this???..and you think 3000 horses in total between NSW and VIC are the problem?

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      • July 2, 2020 at 6:52 pm
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        how often do you actually go to the high country? how often have you seen the environmental disaster caused by pigs and rabbits and deer? It is not an ecological disaster if all the do is graze and fertilize the soil.

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    • June 27, 2020 at 10:01 am
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      Thanks, Debby, for weighing in on this. Didn’t realize the trapping was proceeding already. Showing such callous disregard for these highly-evolved animals and long-time companions of humans is despicable and I pray that there shall be a change of heart and of mind and will but looking at the greater picture and not just employing tunnel vision and simplistic solutions. I will try to contact Matt and other MP the other commenters have indicated. Your comment reveals a lot of hypocrisy going on. When I was in the KNP another one I was shocked to see was the road trains, or large trucks pulling two even three trailers, barging through the park at high speeds at night and massacring many animals, wombats, kangaroos, wallabies, etc. Here in US the parks maintain strict speed limits within parks of 25 mph or less and enforce these.

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    • July 2, 2020 at 6:46 am
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      Yes, Debbie, let’s look at the greater picture of what is happening here and what interests are involved. I quite agree that decimating the genetic lineages would be so tragic. This also represents generations of adaptation to Australia’s ecosystem, of the the horses learning how to survive and fit in, as well as the other species doing likewise in relation to them. To appreciate this we humans have to broaden our minds and look at the greater whole both as far as ecosystems and their geographical occupations and as far as the Time continuum, past, present and future goes. In other words, we must tune in and give credit where credit is due, in this case to the horses.

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  • June 11, 2020 at 4:05 pm
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    Thank you so much for connection and support of our Brumbies

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    • June 27, 2020 at 10:03 am
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      You’re welcome, Sharen. I just pray my message will make a positive difference for them and open some of the minds and hearts of those who need to be opened.

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  • June 11, 2020 at 5:49 pm
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    I would be interested to hear your reaction, Craig, to :
    – the Australian studies that have identified wild horses in Australia as a threat to native animals, including the summary paper: Impacts of feral horses in the Australian Alps and evidence‐based solutions (https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/emr.12357)
    – the listing of feral horses as a threat to endangered species by the NSW and Federal governments.

    And also interested in a bibliography of your publications in peer-reviewed journals of your ecological field studies in Australia, related to feral horses.

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    • June 27, 2020 at 10:09 am
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      Thanks, Linda. I have read several of these studies and will be reading more. I am concerned about a certain tendentiousness in these that targets the brumbies, none-the-less I weigh their findings carefully, while not being brainwashed. I would like to do ecological field studies of the brumbies and give a fair rather than biased consideration to all they contribute to life here.

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  • June 12, 2020 at 1:08 am
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    Craig, how do you leap from the statements that climate change is so important to combat and ‘we mustn’t … remain hung up on tradition’ to your conclusion that the answer is to do something ‘truly good’ for horses by giving them their own ‘natural home’, and in a land which never had any natural hard hooved animal?

    Why would the 1% of Australia in alpine and sub-alpine areas be the place for the world to do the ‘truly good’ thing to horses? And what has that to do with combating climate change? Seems like you might be the one so ‘hung up on (horse) tradition’ you have lost your logic.

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    • June 13, 2020 at 9:02 pm
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      I think you are going out of your way to discredit the points I made in my recent article. I said I was for keeping those more pristine habitats off limits to brumbies through adoption of a specially tailored Reserve Design plan that could include in certain areas where necessary the construction of the log and pole aka buckrail fences. Also I believe you are ignoring the merits of many of the points I brought up as concerns the positive benefits naturally living horses can and do contribute including wildfire mitigation and how just singling them out for removal while ignoring all the cloven hoofed ruminant deer, for example, could produce a situation that backfires upsetting a new but nonetheless sound balance that is so desperately needed in Australia today, including of course Global Warming. I recommend you carefully read the linked references provided in my holistic article. Feel free to contact me with further questions or concerns.

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    • July 2, 2020 at 2:26 pm
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      How do propose to return the regions to pre European settlement? No dogs, no cats, no deer, remove the ski resorts human waste that overflows into natural waterways, remove ski resorts who send 112 tonnes of hard rubbish to land fill at Cobungra, remove Snowy Hydro that overflows and floods valleys, remove the 23+ introduced plant species including blackberry, remove the 7+ introduced bird species, remove wasps and worst of all…remove humans….there is fewer than 3000 horses over a region of over 13,000 square kilometres combined in NSW and VIC…it is impossible to return to a ‘native’ only environment…IMPOSSIBLE!!
      We need to work with what we have now, not how it was before any of ‘us’ and ‘them’ were introduced. Horses contribute many positive things to their environment that far outweigh the negatives. Goannas, cats, snakes, pigs just to name 4 will consume any native animal they can, horses do not and never have consumed meat so how can anyone say horses are solely responsible for the destruction of nature.

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  • June 14, 2020 at 4:07 am
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    Craig your article is well written and we know our wild horses are such great seed movers. They are incredible animals so necessary to keep our forests intact and fertilized. We need our wild horses all over the world. The Brumby’s are important to keep Australia land intact and must be protected. We must also have strict laws protecting them and our wild horses deserve freedom to move and do their best work being master gardeners for the earth. This is a great article Craig.
    In the United States we must keep out wild horses on the land they were destined for as well and let them roam freely. Have clear access to water and food. Thank you Craig for your incredible knowledge on these matters. Thank you for sharing your experience from Australia. Warmly Judith

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    • June 20, 2020 at 2:49 am
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      Thanks so much, Judith. Greatly appreciate your support. Just got back from over a week checking out some of the herds here in the West. Too much rancher monopolization of the resources and putting the squeeze on the mustangs and wildlife in general. Same old, same old. but the good news is that this sick and dishonest situation can and most surely must change and we can learn to live respectfully and harmoniously and share the land and freedom with such magnificent presences as the horses — and all the Great Rest of Life that make life possible here! Happy Summer! Warmly (and it will be that this summer), Craig

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  • June 14, 2020 at 9:38 pm
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    I apologise to the rest of the world, on behalf of the equestrians of Australia. I’m Australian, and this is NOT what we want. The Brumbies can be managed and controlled. It is utter madness to declare Brumbies as so destructive when we do so much mining, fracking, forest clearing and animal extinction as part of ‘normal’ Australian practices. I blame the bodies which run our national parks in each state, and they come under various names. Their number one goal has always been to kill the horses, and they will use any means and any excuse to do so. It is animal cruelty, plain and simple. We need animal management instead of cruelty and killing. Australia has a long history of using cruel and barbaric means to get rid of feral animals, and this needs to change. The Brumbies are set to be rounded up and shipped off to the nearest abbatoir. They will be starved, denied water and crowded together in trucks for the long journey, and at the end of it they will face a painful and terrifying death. It is NOT Australian to treat horses or ANY animal like this. I hope one day the people and authorities involved in such terrible cruelty will be held accountable.

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    • June 27, 2020 at 10:18 am
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      Thanks, M. Walker, for your compassion for these horses. Whose fault is it that they were brought over to Australia anyway? And now that they “struggle to survive” like almost every species dies, and find that they can survive, clearly indicates that there is an available niche here for them. Evolution is not a static process, but ongoing, and with all the changes that Europeans brought to this continent down under, I think it behooves people to consider how a new balance could be struck, a new harmonization based on those species that contribute to the well-functioning of the new order in the natural world. As you, I for one as well, have a hard time merely treating these highly evolved, intelligent and in many ways beneficial animals as so many objects to be ruthlessly and cruelly disposed of. There’s a better way to live and share life, land and freedom … in Australia … in this world we share as home and place of advancement.

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      • July 3, 2020 at 11:42 am
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        I truly believe that the culling of these beautiful creatures is not just stupid and inhumane, they are part of the environment and help in it’s protection of this land.
        (Pardon me, I don’t know big words.
        I’m just an animal lover and appreciate how the land and animals help each other.)
        Same thing with the wolves in Yellow Stone National Park.

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  • June 15, 2020 at 1:20 am
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    I totally agree with your evaluation of the benefits of Brumbies in the National Parks and have seen evidence of their contribution to reducing fire intensity and regeneration of grasses.
    Getting a truely independent and unbiased study however is unthinkable with current governments, both state and federal, as they already have an agenda.
    A heritage protection act is the focus I am involved with and I/we encourage all Victorians to sign the epetition to increase its support through parliament.
    #brumbiesmatter

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    • June 27, 2020 at 10:24 am
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      That’s great, David! So glad to hear of your commitment to reaching a fair and balanced policy toward the brumbies. Target mentality can become very blind and destructive and often seeks to justify itself by co-opting institutions such as universities and government agencies whose members can be stifled by imposed conformity, reward or demotion, reviews and evaluations, etc. Hope this petition takes off!

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  • June 15, 2020 at 8:35 pm
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    Environmentalists haven’t done enough research into other methods of managing Brumby numbers…Culling is a knee jerk reaction from politicians that couldn’t be bothered investigating a humane and long term solution…Culling simply takes some horses out of the equation temporarily, only to have them face a similar situation in a few years time.
    No official count has been done of any Brumby numbers, algorithms have been used to predict growth numbers but no account of the devastating bushfires has been taken into consideration.
    Australians are horrified at this barbaric decision against our iconic wild horses and have reacted strongly against this cull and trapping.
    This is wrong in every aspect and must be reconsidered, and solutions investigated.
    These Environmental Ministers in Vic and NSW have to step up and do their job…shooting these beautiful gentle horses is a tragedy.
    Regards
    Paula Ross

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    • June 27, 2020 at 10:29 am
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      Again, thanks Paula for your thoughtful and caring comment. Again it seems that this “target mentality” has gotten way out of hand and a certain rashness taken hold among the officials rather than the fair-minded and compassionate approach that should be seen in public officials. These highly evolved animals should not be treated as mere ciphers in some cold calculation. Again, as I indicated above, how would people like to be treated this way?!

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  • June 17, 2020 at 6:20 am
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    Its a crime to kill these brumbies

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    • June 27, 2020 at 10:30 am
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      I agree, a real crime, and I saw enough of these terrible crimes against the brumbies when I was there before. This has got to degrade those who commit them!

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  • June 17, 2020 at 11:22 am
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    So the brumbies need more time? They’ve had decades, during which they have helped push towards extinction the lovely black and yellow corroboree frogs, the gentle broad-toothed mouse, and rare alpine daisies, orchids and buttercups. As just one example, the broad toothed mouse Mastacomys fuscus creates tunnels and communal-warmth nests in winter in the tall grass under the snow: horse-mown grass = no tunnels and nests = frozen and starving broad-toothed mice. Sure, other factors such as climate change are weighing on these species, but it would only take a few years of work to reduce the brumby population significantly, which can’t be said for climate change. It’s a crime to stand by and watch species go extinct.

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    • June 27, 2020 at 10:34 am
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      Sorry to hear about this, Linda, but how valid is your blaming of the brumbies and do you take all of the factors operating in this ecosystem into account? I think there’s much more to consider here than just laying blame on brumbies. And it’s easy to rush to judgement based on simplistic thinking.

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    • July 2, 2020 at 6:57 pm
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      Hello Linda, as a local I can categorically advise you that no Corroboree frogs are suffering at the hands or ‘hoofs’ of the brumbies.. Was it not the ecologists and environmentalists that released the beautiful frogs back into the high country last year.. In direct line of the fires? All of them were wiped out. Wondering why you haven’t mentioned that? or… your double standard.. ‘It’s a crime to stand by and watch species go extinct’ and yet you are supporting the total annihilation of the brumby? No arguement that numbers need to be managed, but will the call of having an immediate reduction by 50% has already been achieved due to population being unable to escape the recent wildfires. Brumbiees do not threaten any of our beloved native marsupials… it is the pigs and the deer and the feral cats that will hunt, dig, foul and eat these. Horses are not cannibals and even have a lighter hoof print than pigs.

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  • June 17, 2020 at 11:33 pm
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    When will we learn to live with nature as it is, and not try to control it.
    If we think we have the right to cull species, we should look at our own first.

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    • June 21, 2020 at 12:42 pm
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      These brumbies Have been here for 200 hundred year, I think if you have a look it’s the pigs and deer wild dogs and cats are killing our native animals, all I can say this is bullshit, these brumbies r getting the blame for something they didn’t do

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      • June 27, 2020 at 10:46 am
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        Appreciate your comments, Tracy. I also sense and see evidence for much biased targeting and unreasonable attitudes toward these innocents.

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    • June 27, 2020 at 10:40 am
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      Thanks Patrick. I agree that before casting the stone at the other one should consider one’s own responsibility for the present state of affairs. What is needed today is a much greater respect for all the species in this world we share as home and for the laws or principles that operate in a life community or ecosystem. I really recommend that readers of my article check out the reference under point 6 of my “plan to save …” called “The New Wild …” This well-researched work will definitely help put the whole Australian including Brumby, etc. situation into a much more accurate perspective.

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    • June 27, 2020 at 10:44 am
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      Yes, quite agree. Don’t cast a stone at the other until you have looked at your own responsibility for the current state of affairs. Recommend everyone consider the reference under point 6 of the plan I present called The New Wild … to gain a much better perspective on what’s happening in Australia with its Brumbies and many other species and for that matter all over the world and how it is possible for a restoration of a well-functioning ecosystem can take place with with some many of these citizen-species of the Earth.

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    • June 29, 2020 at 1:46 pm
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      Thank you Craig for your heartfelt support for animals. Many wild species are in extinction because of the inhuman treatment of this animals. They can fell the pain but can’t talk,so we need to stand for them against and ill-treatment. I wholeheartedly support to stop shooting the horses.
      #Save the nature

      Alieu

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      • July 2, 2020 at 8:18 am
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        Thanks so much, Alieu

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    • July 2, 2020 at 8:16 am
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      I agree that it is we humans who have the responsibility of being fair to all the species. What I notice in the establishment view of the brumbies is that they are being targeted and negatively portrayed and that so many of their positive contributions are being blindly ignored. Also ignored are benign possibilities for coexistence. I think what is happening in the Outback against the Brumbies is utterly outrageous and needs to be addressed. So much innocence and intrinsic worth disregarded by ruthless agenda pursuers, who in the process deaden themselves … So much more to be said here than a cold calculated process to discredit and eliminate …

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  • June 27, 2020 at 6:18 pm
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    Thanks Craig. So many myths that abound by many ‘expert scientists’ are misguided and misinformed. We need to continue to discuss the issue with those who are blinkered to the eclectic benefits of how the brumbies compliment the environment and how the environment adapts to get the most it can from the animals that call the relevant landscape home.

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    • July 2, 2020 at 8:26 am
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      So agree, Jullian! We must not be overwhelmed or suppressed in what we see about the wild horse, or Brumbies, and the possibilities of a harmonious ecosystem containing them. What comes to mind is that people are famous for putting the squeeze on those species they want to eliminate. This often starts out with prejudiced talk and written statements against them, demonizing the, scapegoating them for things that seem to be wrong so as to justify their elimination. Generally when a group of people become too partisan, too totally negative concerning a species, a group of people, etc., I become immediately suspect that unjust prejudice, or bias, is at work. I sure hope and pray that a better solution can come for the Brumbies not only in the Australian Alpes but throughout this awesome continent.

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  • July 2, 2020 at 2:10 pm
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    In removing horses you are acknowledging the desire to return the region to Pre European Settlement…that would involve the complete removal of 7 different introduced species of birds, wasps, 23+ introduced plant species including blackberry, deer, pigs, kangaroos, Wallabies, rabbits, dogs, cats, horses, cattle, ski resorts, remove Snowy Hydro and the overflow that floods the valley, removal of 2 man made dams, cancel the proposed airfield at Jindabyne, stop the 112 tonnes of rubbish ski resorts send to land fill in Cobungra, human waste from resorts that overflows from refuse stations into water ways and streams because their systems can’t cope with the volume, stop the proposal of turning snow regions into the new Aspen, all of these things contribute directly or indirectly to harming wildlife…Herbivires do not directly impact wildlife, their manure contributes to attracting insects which feed wildlife, it contributes to enriching soils and fertilises seedlings and wildflowers, when it snows horses create food pockets and concave protection from the elements for wildlife that might otherwise perish during winter… how are you planning on achieving a zero total of those introduced things to return to Native only animals?
    Goannas, pigs, dogs, cats just to name 4 will eat frogs, possums, basically any wildlife on offer…goannas climb tress as do cats. Horses eat grass, never have they and never will they eat meat.
    Fact: Kosciusko National Park 6,900 square kilometres and 1100 horses
    Fact: Alpine National Park 6,474 square Kilometres and 64 horses in Bogong and upto 1200 horses in Eastern Alps region and you think every single native animal and bird is at risk because of horses over such a vast region???

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  • July 3, 2020 at 2:57 pm
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    Driscoll claims many more horses for KNP, but there needs to be an independent check. Many valid points, Nicola

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