State to kill brumbies with aerial fire

The State Government has confirmed that aerial shooting from helicopters will be used to remove sharp numbers in NSW's Kosciuszko National Park.

NSW is legally required to cut to 3,000 by mid-2027, although the current estimate for the 2022 poll is more than 14,000.

Feral horses have been found to threaten more than 30 native species, including the endangered southern and northern frogs, the broad-toothed rat and the oak bark.

They also destroy native plants, increase soil erosion, and pollute waterways and soil.

NSW Environment Minister Penny Sharp acknowledged the brumbies' cultural significance, but said aerial shooting was a necessary measure to maintain the park's well-being.

“There are just too many wild horses in Kosciuszko National Park,” he said.

“Threatened native species are at risk of extinction and the entire ecosystem is at risk. We must act. “

The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service will now undertake a short, preliminary program to refine the standard operating procedure for aerial shooting prior to wider implementation. The carcass management plan and updated population survey will also be made public.

This will be done in collaboration with RSPCA NSW, who will also monitor and evaluate the program.

Ms Sharpe said the shooting, carried out from helicopters, would be carried out as humanely as possible.

Currently, aerial shooting is already used on other invasive species such as wild deer, pigs and dogs.

“There's a view, and there's clear evidence, that well-done aerial shooting produces the best animal welfare outcomes because you're going to deal with what is a nasty business in killing animals,” he said.

To allow aerial shooting, the government is changing the management plan for the wild horse heritage of Kosciuszko National Park.

Currently, the park uses field shooting, trapping and translocation, although the government has been forced to consider alternative methods of controlling the invasive species after numbers increased by 4,434 between 2020 and 2022.

A Senate inquiry into the killing of wild horses in Australia's alpine regions has recommended NSW lift its ban on aerial shooting and called on the Commonwealth to increase funding for state governments.