The Brumby…National Parks vs. Animal welfare

Extreme Green, Eco FriendlyWhat happens when a cultural icon becomes unsustainable?What occurs when a cultural icon starts to threaten prize national park land?

Every Australian knows or has heard of The Man from Snowy River. And most are familiar with that iconic wild horse, the Australian brumby that roams the alpine regions of Victoria and NSW and inhabits areas that include the Kosciusko National Park and the Alpine National Park.

2010 saw the mass slaughter of many trapped brumbies. They were caught in National Park areas around Tumut and then sent to Campden Saleyards. From there, they were sent to the abattoir and eventually ended up as pet dog food.[1]

The National Parks and Wildlife Service now considers the brumby a feral pest, and claims numbers in the park regions have reached epic and unsustainable proportions, causing havoc to native fauna and flora, and destroying the natural wildlife balance of the region.

The Australian Brumby Alliance rejects the National Parks and Wildlife approach to the issue, and believes a humane approach to the overpopulation, involving a trial of PZP – a contraceptive treatment that reduces fertility of the brumbies – should be implemented. They also object to the current practice of quota brumby trapping where hunting dogs hound and mercilessly flush brumbies from the national park areas. The National Parks and Wildlife grants dog permits to organizations such as The Alpine Brumby Management Association (ABMA.)[2]

The Australian Broadcasting Commission recently ran a news item on the matter. Steve Horsley from the ANPWS says that the numbers have increased 20% annually over the past few years. They will continue brumby trapping until October, which is a concern to many who believe in the value of this Australian icon.[3]


The brumby issue highlights the inevitable clashes that are increasing between many types of sustainability and environmental groups. As conservation and green approaches become the prevailing mode of thought, this gives rise to more debate and choice about sustainability and how best to address the problems facing the planet and the environment because of poor human management in the past.

Various animal rights groups regard the brumby as the iconic Australian horse that has a permanent and sacred place at the centre of the national psyche. Various environmental and green groups in the alpine region dispute this, and claim a nostalgic romanticising of the wild horses cannot diminish the brumby’s threat to native flora and fauna.

Regardless of outcome, what remains clear is that a sustainable and humane approach to increasing brumby numbers – one that ensures their dignity while also helping to reduce their numbers – is a possible solution that may require more discussion and evolution. Envirosafe Solutions supports humane and sustainable modes of animal handling and also sees the need for a sustainable approach to the alpine region’s flora and fauna.

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