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Feral Horse Management Planning

Update 1 June 2017

During January and February 2017, Parks Victoria undertook targeted consultation with key stakeholders and interested parties on the development of operational plans for the management of feral horse populations in the Barmah and Greater Alpine National Parks.

The Barmah National Park Roundtable Group and the Victorian Alps Roundtable Group provided input to Parks Victoria on the implementation of feral horse management at the local level. The roundtable groups comprise participants from the previous roundtable groups (commenced 2012), together with other interested parties whose views on the implementation of feral horse management reflect the diversity of community views.

Post the consultation activities, all feedback was considered by a state-wide Technical Reference Group comprising scientists, academics, animal welfare representatives and Traditional Owners.

The draft plan was finalised in late May and is now with the Minister for her consideration. The plan, as approved by Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Hon Lily D’Ambrosio MP will be known as the Feral Horse Strategic Operations Plan, 2017-2020.

Updates regarding the development of the Feral Horse Operational Plans will be provided on this site.

Background – Barmah National Park

Barmah National Park is jointly managed by Parks Victoria and Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation (YYNAC) and is home to internationally significant wetlands, rare and threatened species and ecological communities, as well as many significant Aboriginal cultural heritage sites.

Parks Victoria understands there are a range of views on wild horses, and undertook research to better understand the social and heritage values of wild horses in Barmah National Park. The research, by independent consultants Context Pty Ltd, included an online survey which has been completed, and the preparation of a brief history of the Barmah horses through interviews and archival research.

Community social and heritage values identified in the research will help inform park management strategies.

Community consultation in 2014 canvassed the range of views about the removal of Barmah horses and how it should be managed.

An aerial survey conducted in January 2012 identified a minimum of 140 wild horses in the park. A local community facilitated (horseback) survey in February 2017 counted between 150-160 horses.

Background – Alpine National Park

The Greater Alpine National Parks Management Plan released in December 2016 recognises that many people have a strong attachment to horses being in the Australian Alps and wish for horses to remain as part of the alpine experience. However wild horses are widespread throughout the Australian Alps and they are causing significant damage to this region including fragile alpine and sub-alpine ecosystems.

Community consultation in 2012 canvassed the range of views about the removal of horses and how it should be managed.

The Australian Alps is a place of outstanding natural and cultural significance and the national parks within them are included on the Australian National Heritage List. Containing the highest points in the Great Dividing Range and spanning more than 600 km from Victoria to the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), they cover an area of more than 1.6 million hectares.

Since 1986, State and Federal Governments jointly manage these parks to protect the area’s special character under the Australian Alps National Parks Cooperative Management Program. The Program is delivered by the Australian Alps Liaison Committee (AALC).

The AALC have undertaken a variety of wild horse research and monitoring projects and in May 2016 released a Fact Sheet and two reports: