Horse-lovers have the opportunity to own wild brumbies from the Barmah Forest as part of a Parks Victoria plan to control brumby populations.
The expressions of interest process was launched in 2019 and will be open until March 31, 2020 as part of the Barmah Forest action plan to reduce the brumby population from 540 to 100 over four years.
A spokesperson for Parks Victoria said the program was not for everyone and reminded the community that feral horses were wild animals.
“In response to strong community feedback regarding improving opportunities for passive trapping and rehoming of horses, Parks Victoria will be facilitating more rehoming opportunities where appropriate recipients are identified through an expressions of interest process,” the spokesperson said.
Applicants will need to complete an expression of interest application, which details a specific set of criteria, including the ability to train and care for the horses.
Parks Victoria regional director Daniel McLaughlin said without protection from feral horses that damage grassland, the ecosystem of the Barmah Forest had little chance of recovery.
“The forest, and the animals that reside there, have evolved over millions of years in isolation from feral horses and other introduced species,” Mr McLaughlin said.
Barmah Brumby Preservation Group president Murray Willaton from Nathalia said Parks Victoria had misled the public by blaming grassland reduction on brumbies and said it was a result of unseasonal flooding.
“Parks Victoria are twisting the truth by saying wild horses are the main reason for the reduction of grassland by 90 per cent,” he said.
“They’ve continued to mislead the public in how many horses are there; it’s grossly over-exaggerated.”
Mr Willaton said only about 15 per cent of trapped horses would be rehomed, and the other 85 per cent would be slaughtered.
He said the BBPG offered assistance from professional horse trainers qualified in fertility control to manage the horse population, but Parks Victoria refused to work with them.
“We’ve been offering for the last six years to agree to having 120 horses remain, if they were protected and managed."
He said the action plan had little detail on the welfare practices for the horses, to be utilised throughout the trapping process.
Those interested in rehoming wild brumbies can email firstname.lastname@example.org to request an application package.