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By Country News

A Victorian environmental conservation group is calling on the Victorian Government not to take steps to protect wild brumbies, drawing ire from brumby protection groups.

Victorian National Parks Association made the call in response to moves by the NSW Government to protect brumbies in Kosciuszko National Park, labelling the legislation ‘‘ill-thought-through’’.

The NSW Opposition has committed to repealing the bill if elected in 2019.

VNPA has called on the Victorian Government to ‘‘stand firm’’ and not follow in the path of the NSW Government’s ‘‘disaster’’.

‘‘It ignores years of science and work done on both sides of the border which highlight the serious threats to our unique alpine plants, wetlands and water quality,’’ VNPA spokesperson Philip Ingamells said.

‘‘Extensive scientific studies show that horses damage the many peat beds and wetlands that should be feeding clear water into our rivers and streams all year long. They also threaten a number of rare alpine plants and animals.’’

Yet Australian Brumby Alliance vice-president Madison Young hit back at the claims, accusing the group of ‘‘over-reacting’’ to steps to protect the species and calling for sensible action to ensure the cultural value of the wild animals is respected.

‘‘We see the NSW proposal as a positive step forward that will allow us to manage brumbies humanely,’’ she said.

‘‘There are a lot of fears from a lot of local people and people more widely that management programs will set out to eradicate (the horses) completely. We see this fear is well founded in the case of the Bogong brumbies.’’

She said the NSW bill did not rule out humane, appropriate management of the brumbies, such as fertility control.

Victoria’s Alpine National Park, which adjoins Kosciuszko National Park in NSW, currently features more than 575 rare and threatened plants and animals.

Under the Victorian Government’s Feral Horse Strategic Action Plan, efforts will be made to re-home as many horses as possible.