Australian scientists have called for repealing a law protecting horses that roam freely in the country's alpine regions.
On Nov. 8, 90 researchers signed a statement called the Kosciuszko Science Accord, which requires the government of New South Wales to recognize the "potentially irreparable damage" that technically savage horses are causing to the iconic Kosciuszko National Park in the state . southeast. Scientists also urge the state government to repeal legislation protecting horses, known as brumbies.
The statement was signed at a conference on the impact of horses held at the Shine Dome of the Australian Academy of Science in Canberra and co-hosted by the Australian National University in Canberra and Deakin University in Melbourne. It also requires that New South Wales, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory, whose jurisdictions cover the Australian Alps, cooperate to remove horses through aerial slaughter – which is prohibited in New South Wales – or other effective means.
The conference heard how feral horses are damaging fragile plants and ecosystems, and affecting endangered species like the Corroboree toad (Pseudophryne corroboree and P. pengilleyi) and the Pygmy Mountain Possum (Burramys parvus).
Scientists estimate that there are between 7,000 and 8,000 horses roaming freely in the Australian Alps. Although the animals cause significant environmental problems, scientists say efforts to reduce their population have been thwarted by a New South Wales law passed in June 2018. The law was introduced to recognize the cultural and heritage significance of animals and effectively prohibit their slaughter. Kosciuszko National Park.
Passing the law was "a terrible decision that ignores 70 years of scientific research in the Alps by some of Australia's greatest scientists," says environmental scientist Jamie Pittock of the National University of Australia, who signed the statement. "The wild horse population in the Australian Alps is increasing dramatically and causing a huge amount of damage."
A spokesman for NSW Deputy Prime Minister John Barilaro, who introduced the law to parliament, said a new wild horse management plan will be implemented in the coming months. The goal is to find a balance between the human control of the animal population and the preservation of sensitive areas of Kosciuszko National Park, they said. "No one wants to see horses being thrown from the sky and dying for weeks," they said.
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