'It's A Park Not A Paddock': Campaign To Buck Kosciuszko Brumby Bill Kicks Off

Top Australian scientists and environmental organisations have banded together in a bid to overturn the controversial Kosciuszko Wild Horse Heritage Bill 2018 which passed through NSW parliament in June. 

The legislation abandoned a previous management plan -- drafted by the government's own environment department -- that recommended the aerial culling of brumbies to significantly reduce their numbers.

Instead, the "Brumbies Bill" formally recognised the cultural and historical significance of the wild horses found in the park and prohibited their future culling.

Today, the Reclaim Kosci campaign kicked off to continue the fight against the decision.

"In the last 25 years the brumby numbers have exploded. It was a rare site to see a brumby, or a feral horse, but now it's a paddock," Reclaim Kosci campaign coordinator Richard Swain told 10 daily.

"Where mother nature gives birth to the Murray River is up near a place called Cowambat Flat and it is just horrible what’s happened to it. If you walk up the headwaters of the Murrumbidgee, one kilometre say from the very, very start of the Murrumbidgee, it’s like walking next to the stable at Randwick racecourse."

READ MORE: Government Refuses To Cull Feral Horses Despite Scientific  Protest

On Thursday, protesters will take the campaign to the doorstep of Deputy Premier John Barilaro's office in Queanbeyan.

They will be joined by the Save Kosci walkers, who are trekking all the way from Sydney to Mt Kosciuszko's peak in protest of the legislation.

First and foremost, the campaign's aim is to have the legislation repealed and the NSW government's policy that there will be no lethal culling of wild horses in the park overturned.

"But ultimately what we’re looking for is the introduction of a wild horse management plan that results in substantial reduction and ultimately eradication  of feral horses in the park, using humane and effective means and that extends to lethal culling," lix Goodwin, CEO of the NSW National Parks Association told 10 daily.

READ MORE: Claims Horses Have Been Left To Starve To Death In National Park

"The Wrong Animal In The Wrong Place"

When the Kosciuszko Wild Horse Heritage Bill passed through parliament, the outcry from the scientific community was loud and united in its condemnation of the decision.

Within hours, scientific adviser to the NSW government Professor David Watson had resigned from his position, no longer able to justify committing his "time, energy and professional insight" while his advice went ignored. Invasive Species Council CEO Andrew Cox said the reforms had turned Australia into a "global laughing stock".

Horse exclosure zones in the Snowy Mountains were created to see if regeneration would occur if horses were kept away. Image: Office of Environment and Heritage

"What we’re getting is extraordinary grazing of the park and native vegetation loss. The horses are a hard hoofed animal so they actually compact the soil and undermine the habitat of threatened species," Goodwin explained to 10 daily.

"And of course they drink from our waterways and in doing that we actually see extraordinary expansion and widening of rivers and creeks, with pollution and sedimentation of the water supply."

Swain, a river guide in the park who owns Alpine River Adventures, describes the horses as "the wrong animal in the wrong place."

Image: Invasive Species Council

The impact of their inhabitance is not just extending to the park's ecosystems, but to the horses themselves, Goodwin said.

In October, disturbing vision showing dead and dying horses from starvation along the Snowy River emerged. While some, including former Nationals MP peter Cochran and Jill Pickering from the Australian Brumby Alliance, insisted the images were the result of natural process, others are not convinced.