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Animal rights campaigners have vowed to keep the pressure on the Australian government to prevent a proposed cull of the country’s wild horses, the brumbies.

Lyall Sempf, founder of Brumby Watch Australia, told H&H he is “prepared for the worst” after an aerial cull of 200 brumbies in Queensland, planned for November 2006, was shelved in response to public pressure.

“The authorities have back-pedalled,” he said, “but we must continue to be vigilant.”
Mr Sempf said he was not against culling “extreme populations”, but objected to the proposed method.

“Aerial culling is barbaric,” he said. Mr Sempf described some of the shooters as “space cowboys”, untrained individuals who take pot shots at the brumbies, resulting in sometimes slow, lingering deaths.

Brumbies are found across Australia, with the largest populations in Queensland and the Northern Territory.

There have been several aerial culls of brumbies throughout Australia in recent years, with the most notorious taking place in Guy Fawkes National Park, New South Wales (NSW), in October 2000.

The park is a biodiversity hotspot and the cull was deemed necessary due to competition between brumbies and other species.

But the public outcry after the cull — in which the NSW Department of Environment and Conservation estimated 606 horses died — led to a ban on aerial culling in the state. But in Queensland there have been two aerial culls of brumbies since November 2005.

Two representatives from the state’s Department of Natural Resources told the National Feral Horse Management workshop that, although non-lethal methods of control are preferred, culling is the only viable option in some cases.

“There needs to be a shift to the idea of relocating brumbies rather than culling them,” Mr Sempf said.

  • This news report was first published in Horse & Hound (1 February, ’07)