Recent scientific advances in understanding impacts of brumbies and control in environmental conservation in the Victorian Alpine Park, should have profound implications for public policy relating to brumbies and their management in Victoria.
There has been no past peer reviewed research directly relating to impact by brumbies in the Australian Alpine Park and parks managers have relied upon scant science and population surveys that have recently been debunked by a report published by independent biostatistician Claire Galea.
Peer reviewed research by Dr David Berman (June 2023) shows minimal signs of impact by brumbies in the Bogong High Plains with no impact of horses observed on 99% of the transacts. In contrast in the Eastern Alps,where there is a much larger population of brumbies 83% of the walked transects were still undisturbed by horses, calculated on recorded vegetation and soil disturbances. Dr Berman said in his report, removing brumbies will unlikely make any difference to the park and that the focus on "impact" has been overrated with little or no reporting on the benefits wild horses bring, such as reducing fuel for wildfire.
A review report by Biostatistician Claire Galea based on an analysis of the 2014 and 2019 past population surveys prepared for the Australian Alpine National Park by Stuart Cairns, revealed "there are concerning flaws in methodology and statistical modelling of the population estimates....and based on this analysis it is impossible to have any confidence in the population estimates ..."
It was noted in the peer review of the 2019 population survey, by St Andrews University Scotland, population increases were well beyond the usual published population increases for the species. Equine expert Joanne Canning noted up to 41% annual increases in brumby populations in parts of the park which has been described as biologically impossible. Ms Canning also described the past population surveys as "flawed".
In response to past population surveys and proposed shooting of brumbies based on alleged numbers, Ms Galea and brumby advocates have called for an immediate moratorium and for new counts to be undertaken in the Australian Alpine National Park with stakeholder involvement.
Victorian brumby advocates are calling on the Andrews Labor Government to place an immediate moratorium on shooting and removing any more Brumbies from the Bogong High Plains and Eastern Alps of Victoria, pending a new count, adopting methodology other than distance modelling which is the method used for past counts. They call for stakeholder involvement in a new era of transparency with greater respect for the iconic brumby which they have dubbed "Australia's horse of history".
In light of the results of the peer reviewed report of Dr Berman they are asserting a change in attitude toward brumbies must be adopted by the Andrews Labor Government, and one which reflects wishes of constituents who are largely opposed to brumbies being shot and/or removed from the Victorian Alpine Park.
There is a current petition available with nearly 200,000 signatures calling for a stop to shooting brumbies and for the retention of wild living brumbies under a new non-lethal management plan for brumbies to be retained in the Victorian Alpine Park.
In August 2022, 40 of a surviving population of Heritage Bogong Brumbies, DNA tested as bloodline descendants of Waler war horses,and a high number of Eastern Alps Brumbies were cruelly shot by Parks Victoria contractors.Some brumbies were shot with one bullet, mares aborted involuntarily with one gut shot and foals were left to die of starvation. The shootings have been described as cruel and inhumane.
Approved rehomers who offered to take in brumbies for rehoming rather than seeing them shot have never received horses from Parks Victoria.
Brumby groups, members of equestrian groups and the public are holding a gathering on the steps of Parliament Melbourne on 30 August at 12 noon to protest brumbies being shot and calling for new non-lethal management plans for Victorian National Parks that will see sustainably managed mobs retained in the parks for all future generations that will honour the cultural and social history of brumbies.
Members of Parliament Wendy Lovell and Bev McArthur will both address the crowd and there will be a musical performance by the well known trio "The Wild Orchids" who will sing their song Find Another Way, written especially for brumbies.
New science debunks claimed brumby populations and need to cull brumbies due to environmental impact
M. Nuske telephone 0400 784 754