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Fate of Lake Gregory horses under cloud again

November 26, 2010

The fate of 5000 brumbies living around Lake Gregory in Western Australia is again under a cloud following a news report suggesting a majority of the animals are bound for the dinner plate.

Horses from the Lake Gregory area.

Wild horse advocates have campaigned hard to save the horses and appeared to have scored a major victory in September when West Australia's Indigenous Affairs Minister Kim Hames halted a planned aerial cull of wild horses at Lake Gregory station in the Kimberley.

Hames had received many protest letters and emails appealing for a non-lethal solution, and agreed efforts should be made to find one.

Animals Australia executive director Glenys Oogjes welcomed the decision at the time, saying "killing the horses should never have been considered as an appropriate solution".

However, a report in The West Australian newspaper on November 25 said most of the 5000 brumbies around Lake Gregory are to be slaughtered for human consumption.

It said the state government had asked a professional musterer from Queensland, Max Nunn, to clear out the wild horses.

It outlined a plan to transport the horses to a specialist abattoir in Queensland, for processing for human consumption.

Hames, in a statement later that day, said he would visit the community of Mulan next week "to investigate ways to save wild horses around the Lake Gregory region".

Hames said no decisions had been made regarding the fate of what is estimated to be thousands of animals.

He said the first priority was to discuss with local community members the best way to save as many horses as possible.

"These horses are causing severe environmental damage in the area and we need to deal with the problem," Hames said.

"The Pastoral Board issued us with an instruction to reduce the horse population, or the lease would not be renewed which would affect the economic viability of the community.

"There was a previous proposal to shoot the horses in an aerial cull which was deemed a humane way to deal with the population. However, I abandoned that programme and I believe that decision was the right one.

"I also know there is intense interest locally and from around the world regarding the fate of these animals and I will ensure we save as many of them as we can."

Dr Hames said discussions on the future of the horses included rounding up younger animals and training them, in collaboration with the local community.

"We have been discussing how to train some of these horses with local and interstate experts," Hames said.

"Unfortunately, some animals will have to be put down. Animals that are too wild or too old to be trained will be humanely destroyed.

"Suggestions that trucking was an inhumane way to transport these horses are inaccurate. My advice is that horses can be trained for safe transport and this is currently occurring around Australia."

Hames said the state government would establish a budget to break-in and train horses, and potentially teach local people in horse-related skills.



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