Animal Cruelty on a Mass Scale: Brumby Cull Scheduled for November

In 2000, over 600 wild horses were shot from helicopter during a cull in the Guy Fawkes National Park in northern New South Wales. Worldwide condemnation and efforts by people like Jan Carter from Save the Brumbies helped to set up a humane method of managing horses in national parks. Now in Queensland history repeats itself, but on a scale and situation that seems even graver.

In November 2005 and again in April 2006, using helicopters and sniper shot, the Australian Army killed a total of 1300 wild horses in the High Range military reserve, leaving them to rot or even worse die from wounds and starvation. A similar shoot for a remaining 275 horses in the adjacent Clemont State Forest is scheduled for November this year. Details of the events were recently published in the Townsville Bulletin where journalist Terry Butts revealed that Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service ranger Ross Domin confirmed that $20K has been set aside for the upcoming cull.

Bill Hankin, a local whose property near Rollingstone borders the adjacent Clemont State Forest, has lived in the area all his life and grew up with brumbies. To him the horses are a part of Australian life and history and have actually helped both the military and local land owners in many ways. As descendants of the famous Whaler horses of the Light Horse Brigade they fought valiantly for the country. And he insists that the horses have assisted in bushfire control by keeping grass height down.

Hankin and his son, Bill Jr, do not believe that the horses are causing as much damage to the environment as did the previous period of cattle grazing and use by both the Australian and US Military. During World War II, the Americans established one of the largest munitions dumps, with vehicle tracks and other land degradation still in evidence. Cattle, too, established tracks and the Hankins are of the opinion that the horses are being blamed for land erosion that they did not cause but only utilize. The brumbies, they maintain, follow the easy road by using existing tracks but then are accused of causing the damage.
The Queensland RSPCA appears to have accepted the actions. The High Range massacre went ahead after consultation between Defense and locally based RSPCA inspector Tom East. In 2005, East called a public meeting in Charters Towers to canvass opinion of the affected community. As a result, Queensland RSPCA concluded that the brumbies could not be mustered, transported, or fenced out as they would have no water. "And more importantly, no one wanted them….In the end there was no alternative but to shoot them and the only way was by helicopter," he said.

This is quite a different reaction from that of the October 2000 slaughter of 600 brumbies in Guy Fawkes River National Park, NSW. On that occasion, the RSPCA charged the National Parks and Wildlife Service in NSW with cruelty and won a much-publicised court case and conviction against the government agency.
Interestingly, the Hankins say they have had many phone calls from people interested in having a brumby. But it is beyond most people’s capability to just go out and get one. Professional musterers and purpose built yards are required. Then, maybe, homes will be found and a win-win situation with National Parks can be found.

Indeed, this model is proving successful in NSW where groups such as Save the Brumbies have been working with NSW National Parks and Wildlife to passively trap the animals and find homes for them. Save the Brumbies continues to investigate the situation and do whatever is necessary to stop the November cull.
Brumby Cull in Queensland
High Range Military Reserve, 1300 horses killed in aerial shoot Nov 2005/April 2006,.
Clemont State Forest, near Rollingstone Queensland, $20k allocated by Qld Government for aerial cull of 275 remaining horses in November 2005. Save the Brumbies was alerted by Terry Butts, Townsville Bulletin, and Lyall Sepf of Brumby Watch

The Australian Brumby
Seven horses, believed to have been Cape or Barb horses from South Africa, were the first to arrive in Australia on the First Fleet in 1788. Subsequently a steady stream arrived in the colony.
In eastern Australia horse numbers increased from 14,000 in 1830 to 160,000 in 1850. Due to the vast area of unfenced land, many horses roamed free. Australia now supports the largest population of free-ranging wild horses in the world, estimated at more than 300,000 in 1993, although other estimates range up to 600,000 to 800,000.

The horses have strength, endurance and durability and were specifically bred as military horses (The Light Horse Brigade) during the First and Second World War, the Boer War in South Africa and as police horses. They were instrumental in a successful battle at Beersheba during the First World War.

The term Brumby most likely originated from an early settler, Sergeant James Brumby whose horses were left to run loose in the bush in Northeast Victoria/Southeast New South Wales when he was transferred to Tasmania in the 1830’s and the horses became knows as Brumby’s horses. In general, a horse is considered a brumby if it is free ranging and un-supervised. However, the Australian Brumby Horse Register ( ) , established in December 2005, recognizes a Brumby as a horse that has run without supervision in a substantially unfenced area for five generations.
Editor's note:
It is interesting to note other countries that the US has our wild horses "protected" by our laws, Animal cruelty on a mass scale

Free ranging horses in the area now known as Guy Fawkes River National Park were used by local graziers and a mixture of blood lines was introduced. In later years National Parks and Wildlife Service took over the land and local management was banned. Regular mustering ceased, contributing to large increases in horse population.
In October 2000 an aerial culling program by the NPWS saw the slaughter of over 600 horses in Guy Fawkes River National Park. Due to the public outcry the Heritage Working Party was formed to investigate and establish the heritage value and background of the Guy Fawkes horses. The working party concluded that the history of the horses and their strong links with our Colonial past warranted management and conservation for future generations.

NSW National Parks and Wildlife, in consult with the community, have now established Horse Management Plans for the Snowy River and Guy Fawkes national parks.

Save the Brumbies Inc, CFN 17516 Website:
Save the Brumbies was formed in 2002 as a registered state charity. Its principle objectives are :
To see humane, controlled management and the abolition of shooting of wild horses in National Parks and public lands Australia wide.
To maintain the unique genetics of the brumby for future generations.
To ensure no captured horses be consigned to sale yards and abattoirs.
To establish a permanent Wild Horse Sanctuary as a fitting memorial to those Guy Fawkes horses that were slaughtered so cruelly.
Where possible to run adoption programs for brumbies, so that the public can home one or more of these horses.
To see legislative changes, in line with other nations, (in USA the wild Mustang has been protected for over thirty years [Editor's note: The US mustangs have been gradually eliminated from many states through various means regardless of this 'protection'.]), as the only viable, long term solution to give the Australian brumby protection into the future.hoofpirints
Jan Carter, founder, phone +61 2 6655 2224
Sandy Radke, publicity officer , phone +61 2 6655 2525