Brumby debate continues

Brumby debate continues

A special East Gippsland Shire Council meeting to change the wording of a motion about the shooting of feral horses in the Alpine National Party has been lost.
The hastily arranged special meeting was called after three councillors, Cr Tom Crook, Cr Jane Greacen and Deputy Mayor, Cr Mark Reeves, exercised their right with a notice to alter a motion that was passed at the council meeting in Swifts Creek earlier this month.
That motion, which was introduced by High Country councillor, Sonia Buckley, read that the council write to the Minister for Environment, Lily D’Ambrosio, to “express council’s objection to helicopter shooting and ground shooting of wild horses in East Gippsland and request a meeting to discuss the draft feral horse action plan and the long-term management and extraction of wild horses from national parks in East Gippsland”.
However, at yesterday morning’s (Tuesday) special meeting, Cr Greacen introduced a motion to change the wording to “request a meeting to discuss the draft feral horse action plan and the long-term management and extraction of wild horses from National Parks in East Gippsland”.
Once again, the majority of councillors shot down that idea, which would have removed the wording around aerial and ground shooting of horses, and was seen by some as a bid to remove the emotion from the debate.
The debate has generated widespread discussion in the East Gippsland community with some councillors being inundated with emails in support of the majority vote by the East Gippsland Shire to halt the State Government’s planned aerial and ground shooting of brumbies in the Alpine National Park.
The chief executive officer of the East Gippsland Shire, Anthony Basford, told the special meeting that councillors had received emails and submissions both for and against the issue.
In her bid to alter the motion Cr Greacen said she believed “the issue of shooting is separate from the broader discussion of managing the hordes of horses in the park”.
“I say this because to date any culling has involved killing horses, whether they’ve been passively trapped using salt licks to attract them into a holding yard or lassoed by brumby runners, they’re assessed for rehoming and those not appropriate are trucked to an abattoir and killed there, so they’re being killed anyway,” she said.
“Shooting them where they are assessed seems to be a less cruel way to dispatch these horses when compared with the stress they go through when trucked out and killed at an abattoir.”
Cr Greacen said while she acknowledged the issue belonged to the State Government, she said “the horror some people feel at the thought of shooting horses needs to be considered by us (Council) if the ‘Feral Horse Action Plan’ goes ahead”.


“It engenders a strong reaction that transports this issue into another realm and could negatively impact on this council in the future,” Cr Greacen told the special meeting.
“It is abundantly clear that there are both people, locally and all over the world, who are extremely passionate about the killing of wild horses and want to protect them (and) I accept this.
“Simplistically, I wonder if we could ask the State Government to help committed brumby supporters to obtain lots of land, I don’t know, 50,000 acres of non environmentally sensitive area, and passively trap and transport the High Country brumbies to this area.”
Cr Greacen posited that the special area for brumbies, while costing “a lot of money” could become a great tourist attraction and provide “an attractive business proposition for someone”.
Cr Greacen said she supported the need for discussion with stakeholders but would like there to be consideration of other ways “to manage this emotive issue”.
Cr Tom Crook, who works professionally in the field of environmental management, seconded Cr Greacen’s change of wording to the original motion but when put to the vote it was overwhelming defeated with only councillors Greacen, Crook and Urie voting in support of it. Deputy Mayor, Mark Reeves, was absent from the meeting.
Cr Crook had earlier told the meeting that the horses “shouldn’t be in our parks”.
“These are parks, not paddocks”, he said.
In speaking against the motion to alter the wording, Cr Buckley questioned Cr Crook’s estimate that there were 10,000 feral horses running wild in Victoria’s national parks.
Cr Buckley said what the debate lacked was the “political will to support the local people to rehome them, to take them to sanctuaries, I love that idea, I think that’s one we should look at”.
A fifth generation mountain woman, Cr Buckley concurred that having manageable numbers of horses in the parks was preferable.
“Nobody wants to see the parks in a poor state, that we can all agree upon, so there’s common ground here councillors, but to change the resolution of what we decided upon (that council objects to helicopter and ground shooting of wild horses) would have the effect of depriving the resolution of its usefulness when we meet with the State Government,” Cr Buckley said.
“We must stand strong on being humane and doing the right thing by the horses and we can do that, and we can do it successfully, but we must acknowledge that there is a culture that exists in the High Country that deserves heritage listing and deserves to be strongly supported.”


Cr John White, who also opposed altering the motion, said “council was put in a very bad light after the Swifts Creek meeting by animal lovers, just not in favor of cruelty to animals”.
“I can’t support shooting them (horses) from helicopters,” Cr White said.
Cr Trevor Stow said it was “very difficult to shoot a moving animal from a moving target”.
“The biggest problem I have is with the carcasses. There’s going to be thousands of carcasses left in the bush, thousands of them, and they’re going to be predated upon by wild dogs and wild pigs,” Cr Stow said.
“Dogs and wild pigs are a far bigger problem than the wild horses.”
Cr Kirsten Van Diggele said she wasn’t “comfortable with aerial culling if the population is grossly overestimated”.
Cr Van Diggele suggested “a more accurate account” is done.
After speaking to people in the community she said there was a view “there was one brumby per 3000 deer”.
Cr Van Diggele said she was in support of Cr Greacen’s suggestion to ask the State Government for help in finding land for the brumbies to be rehomed.