Claims of government 'indifference' as wild horses die in drought

Scenes of dying wild horses have confronted adventurers exploring the Snowy River, with claims they are polluting the Snowy River.

The Invasive Species Council has released pictures of the dead horses, in collaboration with anti-brumby campaigner Richard Swain, who runs kayak trips in the Snowy River.

In the release the Council quoted Mr Swain as saying: “Kayakers embarking on a multi-day ecotour down the lower Snowy River earlier this week were confronted by the bodies of dead horses littering the river on the first day of the trip.

"People who come to Kosciuszko National Park to immerse themselves in one of Australia's most stunning landscapes are being confronted by horrific scenes," Mr Swain said.

"When the country is not in drought feral horse numbers in Kosciuszko National Park grow at an average of 6-17 per cent every year," Mr Swain said.

"We're now seeing the implications of protecting feral horses in the park. The animals are dying agonising deaths in the southern end of Kosciuszko and their dead bodies are polluting the Snowy River.

"Feral horses are also competing for scarce feed with our wildlife including wallabies, kangaroos and wombats, which are also suffering from the drought.

"The decision to protect feral horses in Kosciuszko National Park must be overturned for the welfare of not just the horses, but also the health of the park, its wildlife and waterways."

The Invasive Species Council said it was calling on the NSW Government to repeal the Kosciuszko Wild Horse Heritage Act 2018 and to put in place humane feral horse control methods.

"Kosciuszko National Park was created to protect its incredible natural values. It's a park, not a paddock, and must be managed as one of Australia's most precious natural wonders."

Mr Barilaro said brumbies were an important heritage animal in the park – their heritage going back to the walers of world war one – and should be protected within reason, if not damaging the park. Brumbies damaging sensitive areas would be removed to other areas. His office says there is no difference between NSW and Victorian rules on brumby management.

The NPWS says there are 6000 brumbies in Kosciuszko, while brumby supporters say there is only 3000. Mr Barilaro has promised a more thorough investigation of actual numbers.