Australia plans to cull more than 10,000 wild horses, but scientists say it’s not enough | Science and Ecology | DW

Under a draft plan to control the growing number of non-native animals, Australia has proposed a plan to euthanize more than 10,000 feral horses, while maintaining a smaller population in Kosciusko National Park in New South Wales.

However, a group of concerned scientists said this would not prevent further damage to the delicate Australian park, threatening endangered species and habitats.

A 2019 aerial study estimated that, according to Australian Alpine National Parks, there are more than 25,000 wild or feral horses in Australia. Most of these, known locally as brumbies, live in the Alpine region of Australia, located at the junction of three states: New South Wales, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory.

For its part, Kosciuszko National Park is home to about 14,380 wild horses, causing extensive damage to the ecosystem in that region; Large herbivores are a rapidly reproducing invasive species in Australia which, with their hard hooves, trample delicate vegetation.

As explained to temper nature David Watson, an ecologist at Australia’s Charles Sturt University, part of the problem with sensitive vegetation is that much of it is endemic and threatened, found only in the Australian Alpine environment, which covers just 1% of the continent.

“Listen to the Science”

For this reason, scholars through message They argue that the new plan is not enough. 3000 horses will remain in the park, According to a draft plan published last month Produced by the NSW National Park and Wildlife Service, they will continue to threaten, through a series of ecosystem despair, endangered species such as the mighty galactic fish, alpine tree frogs, Riek lobsters and broad-toothed mice, among many other native species.

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According to the letter, written on behalf of the Australian Academy of Sciences, Kosciuszko Park “cannot begin to recover from drought, extensive bushfires and overgrazing if, as is currently proposed, 3,000 feral horses remain”.

John Shine, president of the Australian Academy of Sciences, said in a statement that authorities should “listen to the science, the latest evidence and recommendations on how best to protect the park from the significant harm caused by feral horses”.

“Doing otherwise would show a disregard for Australian ecosystems and threatened indigenous species that are facing imminent extinction and are threatened by feral horses,” said John Shane.

Shooting, raids and transportation

The draft plan recommends reducing the number of wild horses in the park from about 14,000 to about 3,000 through a combination of ground shooting, as well as raids and transfers.

The proposed culling contrasts with the ban on lethal control measures in the United States, where large numbers of wild horses, known as mustangs, also cause problems. temper nature.

Australian officials say the plan will protect the area while preserving the cultural value of the horses, a controversial concept introduced by a 2018 state law influenced, according to local media, by “community groups keen to promote the horses’ heritage value”.

This concept is controversial because it identifies Brumbies as culturally important to the park, despite their introduction to the area by European settlers.

For their part in the open letter scholars Refers to a new study published September 17 in the journal biological preservation, Accordingly, 71% of Australians surveyed agree that it is acceptable to slaughter animals to protect endangered species.

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Edited by Felipe Espinosa Wang.

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