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Canberra Today 1°/6° | Monday, May 20, 2024 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

National park closed for helicopter brumby culls

Brumbies and other animals considered pests will be culled in Kosciuszko National Park in NSW. (Alex Ellinghausen/AAP PHOTOS)

By Jack Gramenz in Sydney

Parts of Kosciuszko National Park will remain closed for the next six months as aerial shooting is used to target brumbies and other feral animals.

Tracks, trails, campgrounds, huts, picnic areas and accommodation in the affected areas of the park have been closed on Thursday and will remain so until October, the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service said.

“The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service will be conducting aerial shooting operations in Kosciuszko National Park,” the agency said on its website.

“Horses, deer, pigs and other feral animals will be targeted.”

Major ski resorts and other popular tourist areas will be unaffected by the changes.

NSW has a legislated target to reduce the number of brumbies in the park to 3000 by mid-2027 – from an estimated population of more than 22,000 – announcing in October that the state would return to aerial shooting of the wild horses.

The feral horse count in the national park exploded after then-NSW Nationals leader and deputy premier John Barilaro opposed culls in favour of trapping and rehoming in 2018.

The federal government has flagged intervening if the NSW control program is not effective, including a possible push for the zero-tolerance approach employed in the ACT.

Federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek has long said horses do not belong in the national park and they are pushing unique native species towards extinction.

But some animal welfare advocates have called for non-lethal controls – such as fertility measures and passive trapping – to be used in place of mass shooting, which they argue is cruel.

Trapping and rehoming animals is currently carried out, in addition to shooting the animals from the air and the ground.

The closure impacts areas of the park north of the Snowy Mountains Highway and east of Goobarragandra Powerline Rd.

The six-month closure partially coincides with the usual winter shut-down period of June 10 to October 4.

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