15 June 2024

NSW Supreme Court rejects pro-brumby group's bid to stop aerial shooting of wild horses

| Edwina Mason
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The NSW Supreme Court yesterday rejected efforts by the Snowy Mountains Bush Users Group to bring to a halt aerial shooting of wild horses in Kosciuszko National Park. Photo: Wikipedia.

A pro-brumby group’s bid to halt the NSW Government’s aerial cull of wild horses in Kosciuszko National Park – until a judge determines whether the practice is legal – was dismissed in the NSW Supreme Court yesterday.

The Snowy Mountains Bush Users Group (SMBUG) is suing NSW Environment Minister Penny Sharpe and the State Government over their October 2023 decision to adopt an amendment to the 2021 Kosciuszko National Park Wild Horse Heritage Management Plan (KNP WHHMP) that authorised aerial shooting as an approved method of reducing the number of wild horses, or brumbies, in the park.

It’s a decision SMBUG claims was “infected by error of law” whereby the Minister was not given accurate, complete or fair advice.

It wants the amendment overturned, and maintains the latest independent survey data suggests there might have been fewer than 3300 horses in the national park in late February.

Following trials in November 2023, the government introduced aerial culling across KNP in March 2024 with the aim of reducing a population estimated to be around 18,000 wild horses to a legislated target of 3000 by June 2027.

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Parts of the park remain closed until 4 October as National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) aerial shooting operations continue.

In a statement following yesterday’s decision, a spokesperson for SMBUG said the court recognised there was a serious issue to be tried and SMBUG had standing to seek the injunction.

“With this in mind, the court had granted an expedited hearing which will take place in the Supreme Court on July 2 and 3,” they said.

“Any injunction granted at this time was deemed to be inconvenient to NPWS given the expedited hearing directive.”

Invasive Species Council (ISC) advocacy director Jack Gough said his group was pleased the ongoing removal of feral horses from KNP would continue through aerial shooting.

“This is necessary to save our native animals and protect our mountain streams,” he said.

“We have full confidence that NPWS staff are undertaking these important operations professionally, safely and humanely, as has been confirmed by numerous independent reviews, including by the RSPCA and vets.

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“We’ve seen a number of previous cases in Victoria and NSW where a small group who don’t want to see a single horse removed are trying to frustrate the important work of our national park staff. To date, all of these court cases have been overturned.”

Mr Gough said a Senate inquiry questioned the constitutional validity of this legislation and its ability to comply with both the EPBC Act and the NSW Kosciuszko Wild Horse Heritage Act 2018.

“With Labor, the Liberals and the Greens all committed to urgently removing feral horses from the Snowies, the Parliament must now step in and step up to fix this law urgently,” he said.

“We may not like it, but culling by highly trained professionals is the only viable way of reducing numbers and saving the national park and our native animals that live there.”

Original Article published by Edwina Mason on About Regional.

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Sheryl Gildea11:48 am 17 Jun 24

It’s not just a small group of people that want to see this incredibly cruel practise of aerial shooting of our Heritage horses stopped, but a large percentage of the population outside of brumby advocates and bush walkers are tired of the misinformation used by ISC and NPWS to carry out their plan of extinction of the Brumbies. They know full well there are other factors that contribute to native species demise, the horses are not one of them. Their actions are nothing short of cruelty.

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