Victoria’s Supreme Court has today cleared the way for Parks Victoria to cull feral horses in the Alpine National Park.

“This is the second time recently that Parks Victoria has been taken to court by horse supporters, and it’s the second time Parks Victoria’s efforts to greatly reduce horse numbers have been validated by law”, says the Victorian National Parks Association’s Phil Ingamells.

“Victorian, national and international laws all require the control of feral animals in national parks, so it shouldn’t be surprising that courts are supporting Parks Victoria’s management ambitions. But horse supporters seem determined to make good management of our ancient alpine habitats difficult” says Mr Ingamells.

Horse supporters have now flagged that they may lodge an appeal, and Parks Victoria has volunteered to hold off any management changes for a couple of weeks while an appeal is entertained.

“However, horses belong in paddocks not parks” Mr Ingamells added, “Left up in the high country, horses die slowly in times of drought, get trapped in heavy snow or caught in bushfires; it’s not a good life for a domestic animal”, Mr Ingamells added.

“Parks Victoria’s plan to cull horses on site, if they can’t be rehomed, is by far the most humane way to manage them.

“Opposition to horse culls has just allowed horse numbers to grow out of control, with around 6,000 feral horses now trampling Victoria’s high country, and at least 25,000 across the alpine region of Victoria and NSW”, says Mr Ingamells.

“Evidence to the courts has shown beyond doubt that horses in the high country are threatening rare plants and animals and affecting the health of our catchments. Over 20 rare plants and a number of a small alpine animals are threatened by hard hooved animals like horses. Habitat for most of those plants and animals is the fragile peat beds and moss beds of the high country.

“Despite claims of pure bred heritage brumbies being threatened by Parks Victoria’s proposed cull, the horses are a mix of breeds, from horses illegally released in the park over many years.

“We congratulate Parks Victoria, and the Environment Minister, for holding strong on the management of all hard hooved animals in Victoria’s Alpine National Park, though more is still to be done to control feral deer in particular.

“After a century and a half battling hard-hooved invaders, it’s time to put our remarkable high country native plants and animals securely on the path to recovery”, said Mr Ingamells.

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