The AJP submission to the Senate Inquiry "Impacts and management of feral horses in the Australian Alps" is now available.
On 9 February 2023, the Senate referred the impacts and management of feral horses in the Australian Alps for inquiry and report by 9 June 2023, with the following terms of references:
To inquire into the impacts and management of feral horses in the Australian Alps, with particular reference to:
a) identifying best practice approaches to reduce the populations of feral horses in the Australian Alps and their impact on:
i. biodiversity, including threatened and endangered species and ecological communities listed under Commonwealth, state or territory law,
ii. the ecological health of the Australian Alps national parks and reserves,
iii. Indigenous cultural heritage, and
iv. the headwaters of the Murray, Murrumbidgee, Snowy and Cotter Rivers, including their hydrology, water holding capacity, water quality, habitat integrity and species diversity;
b) Commonwealth powers and responsibilities, including:
i. the protection of matters of national environmental significance under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, including listed threatened species and communities and the National Heritage listed Australian Alps national parks and reserves,
ii. obligations under international treaties, such as the Convention on Biological Diversity, and
iii. the commitment to prevent new extinctions under the threatened species action plan;
c) the adequacy of state and territory laws, policies, programs and funding for control of feral horses and other hard-hoofed invasive species in the Australian Alps, and their interaction with Commonwealth laws and responsibilities;
d) measures required to repair and restore native habitats for species impacted by feral horses and other hard-hoofed invasive species in the Australian Alps, including for iconic species like the corroboree frog and the platypus; and
e) any other related matters.
The Animal Justice Party contributed a 13-page submission to this consultation and provided 8 recommendations.
1. Investigate how legislation affecting wild horses could potentially be brought in line across different states.
2. Develop a more accurate methodology for counting and assessing the population of brumbies in the Australian Alps.
3. Fund research into safe, humane and effective fertility control methods, and run an Australian trial, so that impact can be measured under Australian conditions.
4. Accept that the removal or depopulation of an introduced species, which may have been established for hundreds of years, is complex and difficult, if not impossible, and could even have some negative impacts on the local ecosystem, including native wildlife.
5. Ensure that methods used to control introduced species or mitigate their damage are non-lethal, humane, effective and species-specific – for instance, deterrence (e.g. small scale, wildlife-friendly fencing of crops; repellents), fertility control, and prevention of further deliberate or accidental breeding, importation and releases.
6. Implement a humane capture and re-homing program, which also provides government support to groups and individuals taking on the care of brumbies in genuine animal sanctuaries.
7. Encourage and support sustainable, ethical and respectful wildlife-based tourism in Australia.
8. Increase citizen participation in environmental decisions, especially community groups and environmental protection organisations.
You can download and read our full submission below