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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 10 Hansard (Wednesday, 19 September 2018) . . Page.. 3815 ..

the recent legislation passed by the New South Wales parliament to remove lethal control of feral horses as a management tool in Kosciuszko National Park.

The large and growing feral horse population in New South Wales adjacent to Namadgi National Park poses a significant threat to the ACT’s biodiversity assets and to Canberra’s water catchment. The boundary between the ACT and northern Kosciuszko, where horse density is highest, is readily traversed by horses. As such, this decision by the New South Wales government threatens to set back what we have achieved to date in controlling feral horses and managing their impacts. With their hard hooves, large body weight and the requirement for large quantities of grass as feed, feral horses are capable of causing considerable damage to the fragile subalpine ecosystems, particularly the sphagnum moss bogs and streams that filter our water supply and provide habitat for the endangered corroboree frog.

The ACT has put considerable effort into controlling horses within our national parks and other protected areas. Today feral horses in the ACT are managed in accordance with the 2007 Namadgi National Park feral horse management plan, which has a very clear goal: to prevent the re-establishment of feral horse populations within Namadgi National Park. Under this plan, which permits all recognised best practice techniques of management, 24 horses were removed from the park between 2007 and 2011. I just want to reiterate that number: 24 horses in the park have been removed between the years 2007 and 2011.

Presently there are no feral horses known to be residing within Namadgi National Park, with only an occasional transient animal present in the vicinity of the border. Current management effort is focused on surveillance and monitoring to detect new incursions before they can re-establish. The current population of feral horses within Kosciuszko National Park is approximately 6,000 animals.

I want to reiterate those numbers that I talked about earlier: 24 horses in Namadgi, have been removed between the years 2007 and 2011 and in Kosciuszko we see 6,000 horses. A significant number of these animals are in the north-east of the park in the Currango Plain or Tantangara area bordering the ACT. Monitoring within New South Wales indicates that this population is growing, with increased likelihood of horses dispersing into the ACT and a heightened risk of populations establishing within the upper Cotter catchment.

To date horses in the ACT have been controlled by luring them into trap-yards with salt ticks, where they are sedated and then euthanased with firearms, and carcasses removed for burial. Populations to date have occurred in remote areas only accessible by helicopter. This style of program has been manageable for the relatively few horses removed. Since 2007 the sensitive issue of aerial shooting, though still regarded as a humane option, has not been required to be used.

However, if horse populations in Namadgi National Park were to significantly increase by animals dispersing from a growing population in Kosciuszko National Park, our current methods would quickly become impractical and it is likely that aerial shooting, which is the secondary option under the current Namadgi National Park feral horse management plan, would need to be introduced. There would be also

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