Brumbies - Symbol Of The Outback Or Environmental Pest
Horses were first described as pests in Australia in the 1860s. Today, negative environmental impacts may include soil loss, compaction, and erosion; trampling of vegetation; reduction in the vastness of plants; increased tree deaths by chewing on bark; damage to bog habitats and waterholes; spreading of invasive weeds; and various detrimental effects on population of native species. In some cases, when feral horses are startled, they may damage infrastructure, including troughs, pipes, and fences. On the other hand, grazing Brumbies also reduce vegetation buildup and thus may reduce the risk of massively destructive bushfires that destroy native flora and fauna and may be followed by severe flooding. Brumbies also help keep tracks and trails clear for bush walkers and service vehicles.
The hooves of free-roaming horses compact the soil, and when the soil is compacted, air spaces are minimized, leaving nowhere for water to collect. When this occurs, soil in areas where horses are prevalent has a water penetration resistance over 15 times higher than that in areas without horses. Trampling also causes soil erosion and damages vegetation, and because the soil cannot hold water, plant regrowth is hindered. Horse trampling also has the potential to damage waterways and bog habitats. Trampling near streams increases runoff, reducing the quality of the water and causing harm to the ecosystem of the waterway. Horse excrement tends to foul these waterways, as does the accumulation of carcasses that result when feral horses perish, adding to the negative environmental impact of this exotic species in Australia.
Alpine areas, such as those of Kosciuszko National Park, are at particular risk; low-growing alpine flora is highly vulnerable to trampling, and the short summers mean little time for plants to grow and recover from damage. The biodiversity there is high, with 853 species of plant, 21 of which are found nowhere else. Erosion in the limestone karst areas leads to runoff and silting. Sphagnum moss is an important component of highland bogs, and is trampled by horses seeking water.
Feral horses may also reduce the richness of plant species. Exposure of soil caused by trampling and vegetation removal via grazing, combined with increased nutrients being recycled by horse dung, favour weed species, which then invade the region and overtake native species, diminishing their diversity. The dispersal of weeds is aided by the attachment of seeds to the horses’ manes and tails, and are also transferred via horse dung after consumption of weeds in one location and excrement in another. Although the effects of the weeds that actually germinate after transfer via dung is debated, the fact that a large number of weed species are dispersed via this method is of concern to those interested in the survival of native plant species in Australia. The effect on plants and plant habitats are more pronounced during droughts, when horses travel greater distances to find food and water. They consume the already threatened and limited vegetation, and their negative influences are more widespread. Feral horses may also chew the bark of trees, which may leave some trees vulnerable to external threats. This has occurred during drought, among eucalyptus species on the Red Range plateau. It appears as though feral horses may prefer these species.
Interaction with other animal species The changes in vegetation that result when feral horses overpopulate a region affects bird species by removing plants upon which they feed, as well as altering the habitat of the birds and their prey. Feral horse grazing is also linked to a decline in reptiles and amphibians due to habitat loss. In addition, the grazing and trampling near waterways influences aquatic fauna. In areas frequented by horses, crab densities are higher, increasing the propensity for predation on fish. As a result, fish densities decline as the removal of vegetation renders them more susceptible to predation. In areas where horses are abundant, macropod populations are less prevalent. This is most likely due to the horses’ consumption of vegetation upon which the macropods normally feed. When horses are removed, signs of the presence of various macropods, specifically the black-footed rock wallaby, increase. Thus, competition with horses may be the reason for the decline in macropod populations in certain areas. Brumby populations also may have the potential to pass exotic diseases, such as equine influenza and African horse sickness to domestic horses. They also may carry tick fever, which can be passed to both horses and cattle. This can lead to high fatalities among domestic populations, causing many farmers to call for the management of feral horses.
Like all livestock, brumbies can carry the parasite Cryptosporidium parvum, which can result in serious gastroenteritis in people drinking contaminated drinking water. Population management
Although poor management of feral horses may pose an ecological and environmental threat in some parts of Australia, their management is made difficult by issues of feasibility and public concern. Currently, management attempts vary, as feral horses are considered pests in some states, such as South Australia, but not others, including Queensland. There is also controversy over removal of Brumbies from National Parks. The primary argument in favour of the removal of Brumbies is that they impact on fragile ecosystems and damage and destroy endangered native flora and fauna.
Public concern is a major issue in control efforts  as many advocate for the protection of Brumbies, including the Aboriginal people, who believe feral horses belong to the country. Other horse interest groups resent the labelling of horses as “feral” and are completely opposed to any measures that threaten their survival. Many horse lovers and animal rights advocates oppose culling techniques and attempt to organise relocation of the animals instead. However, it has been argued that relocation, which often involves hours of helicopter mustering, would be more traumatic for the horses. Animal welfare groups aim to protect animals, including feral horses, from cruelty and exploitation, as well as from “unnecessary stress” caused by control efforts. Meanwhile, conservationist groups, such as the Australian Conservation Foundation, condone humane culling as a means of control because of the damage Brumby overpopulation can cause to native flora and fauna, but are also generally opposed to various means of extermination. This makes management a challenge for policymakers, though at present, the cost of allowing overpopulation of feral horses seems to outweigh other concerns. Population control methods See also: Animal population control
The traditional method of removal, called brumby running, is reminiscent of Banjo Paterson's iconic poem, The Man from Snowy River where expert riders rope the Brumbies and remove them to a new location. Options for population control include fertility control, ground and helicopter shooting, and mustering and trapping. None of the methods provide complete freedom from suffering for the horses, and the cost of each is very high. The costs include those that are economic, such as research, equipment purchases, and labour expenditures, as well as moral concerns over the welfare of the horses. As a result, more effective and efficient means of control have been called for.
Fertility control is usually viewed as the most humane treatment, as it is non-lethal. It involves injecting horses with hormones which render them infertile. While it appears as though these treatments are effective in the breeding season immediately following injection, the lasting effects are debated. Because it is costly and difficult to treat animals repeatedly, this method, despite being ideal, is not widely implemented. Shooting by trained marksmen is considered by many to be the most practical method of control because it is effective and animals that are initially wounded and not killed may be tracked and dispatched if they are in accessible, open country. It is not a humane means for destruction of horses in mountain ranges. Helicopter shootings allow for aerial reconnaissance of a large area to target the densest populations, and shooters may get close enough to the target animals to ensure termination. This method is the most effective and cost efficient means of control, but disapproval is high amongst those that believe it is inhumane.
Mustering is a labour intensive process that results in one of two major outcomes: slaughter for sale, or relocation. It may be assisted by feed-luring in which bales of hay are strategically placed to attract feral horses to a location where capture is feasible. Complicating this process is low demand for the captured horses, making it less desirable than fertility control or shooting, which reduce the population without having to find alternative locations for them. Management in national parks
Between 22 October and 24 October 2000, approximately 600 Brumbies were shot in the Guy Fawkes River National Park by the National Parks and Wildlife Service. As a result of the public outcry that followed the NSW Government established a Steering Committee to investigate alternative methods of control. Since the campaign began to remove horses from the national park, over 400 have been passively trapped and taken from the Park, and 200 of these have been re-homed.
A NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service cull during 2006 and 2007 in Kosciuszko National Park, where there were an estimated 1700 horses in 2005, resulted in a reduction of 64 horses.
The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service commenced a plan in 2007 to reduce Brumby numbers by passive trapping in the Oxley Wild Rivers National Park. Over 60 brumbies captured in the Apsley River Gorge have now been re-homed. In 2008 the third phase of an aerial culling of Brumbies took place, by shooting 700 horses from a helicopter, in Carnarvon Gorge in Carnarvon National Park, Queensland. In literature and media
Brumbies, called "wild bush horses," are mentioned in Banjo Paterson's poem The Man from Snowy River. This poem was expanded into the films The Man from Snowy River and The Man from Snowy River II — (US title: "Return to Snowy River" — UK title: "The Untamed") — also The Man from Snowy River (TV series) and The Man from Snowy River: Arena Spectacular. Another Banjo Paterson poem, called Brumby's Run, describes a mob of brumbies running wild. Paterson was inspired to write the poem when he read of a N.S.W. Supreme Court Judge, who on hearing of Brumby horses, asked: "Who is Brumby, and where is his Run?" The popular Silver Brumby books by Elyne Mitchell were written for children and young adults. The stories describe the adventures of Thowra, a Brumby stallion. These stories were dramatised and made into a movie of the same name (also known as The Silver Stallion: King of the Wild Brumbies), starring Russell Crowe and Caroline Goodall. The brumby was adopted as an emblem in 1996 by then newly-formed ACT Brumbies, a Super 14 rugby union team based in Canberra, Australia.
See also Feral horse Invasive species in Australia
References ↑ Foster, Helen and Digby (2010). "The Guy Fawkes Heritage Horse Association Inc.". Dorrigo, NSW: self. Retrieved 4 January 2010. ↑ "Definition of "Brumby"". Compact Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 4 January 2010. ↑ "Definition of "Brumby"". Dictionary.com. Retrieved 3 January 2010. ↑ ADB: Brumby, James Retrieved 2009-12-16 ↑ The History of theGuy Fawkes River Australian Brumbies and the Brumbies of the Northern Tablelands Retrieved 2009-12-23 ↑ 6.0 6.1 Ludowyk, Frederick. "Wild Horses Running Wild". Retrieved 4 January 2010. ↑ 7.0 7.1 7.2 Chisholm, Alec H. (ed.), The Australian Encyclopaedia, Vol. 2, p. 170, “Brumby”, Halstead Press, Sydney, 1963 ↑ 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 Dobbie, W. R., Berman, D. M., & Braysher, M. L. (1993) "Managing vertebrate pests: Feral horses." Canberra: Australia Government Publishing Service ↑ McKnight, T. (1976) "Friendly vermin- Survey of feral livestock in Australia." Berkeley: University of California Press ↑ 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 Australia Government Department of the Environment and Heritage. (2004) Feral horse. (Equus caballus) and feral donkey. (Equus asinus): Invasive species fact sheet. Retrieved 2009-3-1. ↑ Berger, J. (1986) Wild horses of the Great Basin. Sydney: University of Chicago Press. ↑ 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 12.6 12.7 12.8 Nimmo, D. G., & Miller, K. K. (2007) Ecological and human dimensions of management of feral horses in Australia: A review. Wildlife Research, 34, 408-17. ↑ Dawson, M. J., Lane, C. & Saunders, G. (2006) Proceedings of the National Feral Horse Management Workshop, Retrieved May 9, 2008 from http://www.invasiveanimals.com/downloads/FeralHorse_web.pdf ↑ Eberhardt, L. L.; Majorowicz, A. K.; Wilcox, J. A.(1982). "Apparent rates of increase for two feral horse herds." Journal of Wildlife Management, 46, 367-374. ↑ 15.0 15.1 Bomford, M., & Hart, Q. (2002). "Non-indigenous vertebrates in Australia." In Biological invasions: Economic and environmental costs of alien plant, animal, and microbe species. David Pimental (Ed.). Boca Raton: CRC Press. ↑ Hoofbeats: Pangare Ponies Retrieved 2009-12-16 ↑ Wild horses of WA: The Pangare Ponies Retrieved 2009-12-16 ↑ Equine Veterinarians: Wild Horses Give Us Their Secrets Retrieved 2009-12-16 ↑ University of Queensland: Australian Brumby Research Unit Retrieved 2009-12-16 ↑ Brumby camps Retrieved 2009-12-16 ↑ Snowy River Festival at Dalgety Retrieved 200-12-16 ↑ NCHA: Stockman’s Challenge Retrieved 2009-12-16 ↑ "King of the ranges stockman's challenge" Retrieved 200-12-16 ↑ The Man from Snowy River Bush Festival Retrieved 200-12-16 ↑ 25.0 25.1 The Land Magazine, p. 3, 19 June 2008, Rural Press, North Richmond, NSW ↑ Pest Animal Control CRC. Feral horse. (Equus caballus) Retrieved 2008-5-8 ↑ Reports following on from the Victorian State Government's inquiry into the Alpine bushfires of 2002-03. See for instance Gooch, Liz; Moynihan, Stephen; Simpson, Kirsty (2003-03-23). "Inquiry takes on lessons of fires". The Sunday Age: p. 11. Retrieved 2009-04-04.; Impacts of Bushfires; Floods hit fire-ravaged Australian towns; Bushfire Impacts; Climate change adaptation; 2003 - Large fires. ↑ Walcha News, p.6, 17 July 2008, Rural Press ↑ 29.0 29.1 Dyring, J. (1990). The impact of feral horses. (Equus caballus) on sub-alpine and montane environments. Canberra: University of Canberra Press. ↑ Beever, E. A., and Herrick, J. E. (2006) Effects of feral horses in Great Basin landscapes on soils and ants: direct and indirect mechanisms. Journal of Arid Environments, 66, 96–112. ↑ Rogers, G. M. (1991) Kaimanawa feral horses and their environmental impacts. New Zealand Journal of Ecology, 15, 49–64, New Zealand Ecological Society, Inc. ↑ Kosciuszko National Park Horse Management Plan, pp. 12-13 ↑ Campbell, J. E., and Gibson, D. J. (2001) "The effect of seeds of exotic species transported via horse dung on vegetation along trail corridors." Plant Ecology, 157, 23–35. ↑ Bark Chewing on Red Range plateau, GFRNP: http://www.ecoman.une.edu.au/staff/kvernes/Ashton.pdf ↑ 35.0 35.1 Levin, P. S., Ellis, J., Petrik, R., and Hay, M. E. (2002) "Indirect effects of feral horses on estuarine communities." Conservation Biology, 16, 1364–1371. ↑ Clemann, N. (2002). "A herpetofauna survey of the Victorian alpine region, with a review of threats to these species." Victorian Naturalist, 119, 48–58. ↑ Matthews, D., Bryan, R., and Edwards, G. (2001) Recovery of the black-footed rock-wallaby following horse removal on Finke Gorge National Park, Northern Territory. In Nimmo (2007) ↑ Burke's Backyard: Horse Culling Retrieved 2009-12-1-23 ↑ Environment ACT 2007, Namadgi National Park Feral Horse Management Plan ↑ Nimmo, D. G., Miller, K., & Adams, R. (2007). Managing feral horses in Victoria: A study of community attitudes and perceptions. Ecological Management & Restoration 8 (3) , 237–243 ↑ Chapple, R. (2005). "The politics of feral horse management in Guy Fawkes River National Park, NSW." Australian Zoologist, 33, 233–246. ↑ Shears, Richard. "Mail Online News: Massacre at murder spring: The shocking cull of wild horses in the Aussie outback". Retrieved 5 January 2010. ↑ Senate Select Committee on Animal Welfare. (1991). Culling of large feral animals in the Northern Territory. Canberra: Senate Printing Unit. ↑ ABC News: Brumby removal plan sparks community debate Retrieved 2009-12-16 ↑ 45.0 45.1 Killian, G. L. A., Miller, N. K., Diehl, J., Rhyan, J., and Thain, D. (2004) "Evaluation of three contraceptive approaches for population control of wild horses." Proceedings of the 21st Vertebrate Pest Conference, 21, 263–268. In Nimmo (2007) ↑ The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) spoke out about the Guy Fawkes River National Park brumby cull: http://www.brumbywatchaustralia.com/GFRNP-AVA_speaks.htm ↑ Save the Brumbies ↑ Kosciuszko National Park Horse Management Plan, p. 1 ↑ Kosciuszko National Park Horse Management Plan, p. 17 ↑ "Feral Horse Management Plan Draft - Oxley Wild Rivers National Park" (PDF). New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service. January 2006. Retrieved 2007-11-04. ↑ ABC News: Cull cuts Carnarvon Gorge brumby numbers Retrieved 2009-12-19 ↑ "Man from Snowy River" poem by Banjo Peterson ↑ Prentice, jeff. "A Tribute: ELYNE MITCHELL, 1913 - 2002 MATRIARCH OF THE HIGH COUNTRY." Viewpoint: On Books for Young Adults Volume 10, Number 3, Spring 2002 ↑ Amazon.com listing, containing a review from School Library Journal ↑ iMDB on The Silver Brumby ↑ "Official site of Brumbies Rugby". CA Brumbies. 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-31.
Cited text </dt> Kosciuszko National Park Horse Management Plan. NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Department of Environment and Climate Change, NSW Government. December 2008. ISBN 978 1 74122 831 1. Retrieved 11 January 2010. External links Brumby Watch Heritage Horse National Parks Wild Horse Control Okstate: Australian Brumby Save The Brumbies Inc A documentary film about Brumbies