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Cull delayed, but fate of 5000 brumbies in balance

June 9, 2010

Wild horse advocates welcome a delay to plans to truck up to 5000 animals from the Kimberley region to slaughter, but warn the fate of the horses is uncertain.

Above and below, horses from the Lake Gregory area.

Libby Lovegrove, a co-ordinator in efforts to save the horses, who live around Lake Gregory, said the delay owed much to support of thousands of people from Australia, the United States, New Zealand and Europe.

"We have now been able to delay the horrific trucking of the beautiful wild horses from Lake Gregory in the Kimberley to the slaughterhouse at Peterborough in South Australia," Lovegrove said.

"However, the fight is not over."

She said the agencies involved - the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Department of Regional Development and Lands, Department of Local Government, Department of Indigenous Affairs and the Pastoral Lands Board and Aboriginal Lands Trust - have met.

"We have been advised that a special Animal Welfare Advisory Committee will be set up to consider all the options for managing the horse and cattle population at Lake Gregory pastoral lease.

"A final decision will be made by the Department of Indigenous Affairs in late June.

"We fear that an alternative decision to aerial cull the horses may eventuate.

"Our photos of an aerial cull on Frazier Downs, near Broome, in 2008, when quiet horses which would voluntarily walk in to yards to drink were senselessly gunned down ... showed that horses had died slow agonising deaths.

"We do not intend to let this happen again."

Lovegrove said a plan was being put forward which she hoped the residents around the lake - the Mulan Aboriginal community - would accept as being the humane and economical solution.

"Rather than remove horses and increase cattle ... we propose that the lake be fenced with solar-driven two-strand fencing, with water points left at intervals where the horses can reach water and be easily trapped for gelding and PZP contraception.

"These water points can be maintained and refilled with solar-driven pumps. There are numerous old bores which can also be restarted using solar pumps as well.

"The horses at Lake Gregory, with their Arab bloodlines and other small groups of Timor derivative ponies, are unique to our heritage as well as being very beautiful and a real pleasure to see.

"We maintain that the area could become a Brumby Sanctuary with up to 12-15 full time jobs and provide a lucrative income for the Mulan community, with upgrades to their infrastructure, shop, housing and other facilities.

"With training in horsemanship, they could manage horse trekking around the lake and campsites for tourists wishing to view the horses as well as the prolific bird life.

"As a tourist destination, the employment and training opportunities are endless and offer a lucrative future.

"It only needs some lateral thinking by our politicians to achieve this."

She urged supporters of the wild horses to continue their support on behalf of the horses.

Two of the Lake Gregory horses who are now in Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum's endurance team.
"Keep the letters piling in, write to newspapers, get more signatures on our petition at Animals Australia and further spread the word on the internet."

Animals Australia also welcomed the decision to reconsider the cull plan, which would have involved trucking the horses 3000km to slaughter.

Animals Australia communications director Lyn White said she understood her organisation would be invited to be an official representative on the Animal Welfare Advisory Committee, which would consider the fate of the horses.

"While the committee's role will be to make its recommendation on animal welfare grounds, the final decision will remain with the West Australia Government," she said.

"In this tenuous situation it is therefore critical that the government continues to hear the voices of caring Australians who are appalled by the ill-conceived plan to cruelly exterminate these peaceful animals."

She urged supporters to contact politicians to express their concern over the fate of the horses.



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