Australian Alps Feral Horse Aerial Survey results

Monday 16 December, 2019

The 2019 Feral Horse Aerial Survey conducted by the Australian Alps National Parks Cooperative Management Program (AANPCMP) has revealed the estimated feral horse population has grown in the last five years from approximately 9,190 in 2014 to 25,318 in 2019 across the Australian Alps landscape, a 23 percent increase per annum.
The latest aerial program surveyed more than 7,400 square kilometres in three large blocks across Kosciuszko, Snowy River and Alpine National Parks and the adjoining State Forest areas in New South Wales and Victoria.
Feral horses are not a natural part of the Australian environment; their increasing numbers are causing major environmental damage to vulnerable high-country wildlife and habitats.
European settlers first brought horses to Australia in the last 250 years, by contrast the alpine plants and animals evolved their unique features and adaptations over millions of years.
These native plants and animals occur naturally nowhere else on the planet, they are not equipped to deal with the weight, grazing, hard hooves or trampling of feral horses.
Parks Victoria is committed to reducing feral horse populations and minimising their damage to Victoria’s Alpine National Park, as outlined in the Protection of the Alpine National Park – Feral Horse Strategic Action Plan 2018-2021.
The survey confirms the need for action and monitoring of the health of high country nature and species, to ensure it is protected for current and future generations.
The 2019 census replicated the exact protocols and flight paths as charted in 2014. The next Feral Horse Aerial Survey is scheduled for 2024.
Quotes, attributed to Dr Mark Norman, Chief Conservation Scientist, Parks Victoria
“The results of the AANPCMP Feral Horse Aerial Survey confirm what we are seeing on the ground.”
“Feral horses are not a natural part of the Australia Alps and they continue to cause damage and threaten some of our most special Australian wildlife and amazing places, like alpine wildflower meadows, snowpatch plant communities, lush water-filtering mossbeds and crystal-clear waterways, all homes to unique wildlife”.
“As elsewhere across the country, the Australian Alps are already feeling the impacts of a warming and drying climate under climate change, and making difficult decisions and taking nature conservation actions are more important than ever.”
“It is clear across the Alps that we need to deliver our planned horse control programs and work closely with partners and community to protect these special places.”
“We will continue to work cooperatively with the other park agencies across the Australian Alps National Parks system and implement a concerted and well-coordinated approach to feral horse population management.”

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