The Victorian Government has decided against shooting feral horses in the Victorian Alps as a control measure.
In a decision which may have implications for control of brumbies in Barmah National Park, the government has announced no aerial or ground-based shooting will occur as part of a draft management plan for the Alpine National Park.
The government is grappling with how to remove an estimated 200 or more brumbies from the Barmah area.
Parks Victoria has released the draft Protection of the Alpine National Park – Feral Horse Strategic Action Plan, which points out that horses are causing damage to the alpine areas.
‘‘This includes the destruction of habitat critical to many threatened plant and animal species, damage to waterways, degradation of fragile vegetation, and soil disturbance that results in erosion or compaction.’’
During recent years, small numbers of horses have been removed from the Victorian Alps, in co-operation with horse interest groups.
However, this process has not been sufficient to mitigate the severe impacts of horses on vulnerable areas, particularly to riverine wetlands, alpine peatlands and streambanks.
‘‘As a result, some iconic areas of our parks, such as the source of the Murray River in the Alpine National Park, are in very poor condition.’’
Parks Victoria estimates the number of feral horses in the Alpine area to be about 2350.
The plan envisages trapping the wild animals using lures such as salt, molasses and/or lucerne to encourage feral horses to go into the trap yards.
Once inside the trap yard, a tripwire triggers the closure of the entry gate.
The trapped animals are then transported to a brumby rehoming organisation.
The report says mustering may be used as a secondary control method, but roping and shooting will not be used.
‘‘Ground or aerial shooting has not been used to remove free-ranging feral horses by public land managers in Victoria due to public perceptions and preference for passive techniques such as trapping,’’ the report said.
■The report is now out for public consultation until February 2, at www.engage.vic.gov.au