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Brumbies

Policy

Brumbies are introduced free-roaming horses that have existed in Australia since European invasion. Brumbies are sentient animals that are worthy of protection, yet they have also attracted controversy due to competition with native animals and environmental damage, particularly in sensitive alpine areas. The Animal Justice Party (AJP) opposes the use of cruel, lethal control methods against brumbies including aerial and ground shooting. Where intervention is proven necessary, humane non-lethal options should be used.

Key Objectives

  1. Immediately stop aerial and ground shooting of brumbies.
  2. Outlaw the use of all lethal control methods on brumbies.
  3. Fund research into safe, humane and effective fertility control methods.
  4. Implement a humane capture and re-homing program, which also provides government support to groups and individuals taking on the care of brumbies in genuine animal sanctuaries.
  5. Where there are threats that the brumbies will cause serious or irreversible damage to native animals or the environment, implement humane non-lethal methods, such as the appropriate combination of fertility control, targeted, wildlife-safe fencing and rehoming according to the circumstances.

Background                                       

Brumbies are wild horses that were introduced to Australia following European invasion. Like other horses, brumbies are intelligent and social animals. Whilst adult brumbies don’t have any natural predators, populations are threatened by drought, food scarcity and parasites with very few wild horses reaching their maximum life span of 20 years.

The number of brumbies in Australia is disputed. The vast majority live in central and northern Australia. Only a small percentage reside in alpine areas, such as Kosciuszko National Park in New South Wales and Alpine National Park in Victoria. Brumbies compete with native animals for natural resources, and can contribute to habitat destruction, degradation of vegetation and soil stability, especially in the fragile, threatened ecosystems of alpine regions. 

Where there are threats that the brumbies will cause serious or irreversible damage to native animals or the environment, humane non-lethal measures to reduce their population size should be implemented. On the other hand, where brumbies pose minimal threat to natural systems, particularly outside sensitive alpine environments, the need for any intervention should be carefully considered.

Killing campaigns (including aerial and ground shooting) are never ethical and can cause horrific suffering. An infamous example of aerial killing occurred in Guy Fawkes National Park in 2000, where a significant number of animals were shot multiple times and/or left to die a slow, painful death. This led to mass public outcry and significant political controversy in NSW over the treatment of brumbies.

The AJP regards all animals as individuals worthy of protection, regardless of whether they are native or introduced. The AJP acknowledges that it can be challenging to balance the interests of these animals. Humane, non-lethal methods have proven successful in free-roaming horse populations overseas, with new methodologies and technologies continuing to develop and improve over time. Fertility control should be urgently trialled in Australia, as it is in New Zealand, in conjunction with rehoming. It is important that any rehoming program is accompanied by sufficient financial support. Right now, rehoming groups unfairly carry the burden of addressing this issue, yet many rely on donations to do so and struggle to cover the costs associated with transport, feed, gelding and vet bills. 

It should always be remembered that brumbies, like other introduced species, are purely responding to an environment that they are not in by choice. They were brought here by humans, and we have a responsibility to find humane solutions to protect all animals and the environment.

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Updated on 6 September 2022

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