Kath Massey from the Hunter Valley Brumby Association has written disagreeing with my post on the need to reconsider methods of control for brumbies in New South Wales. I've posted Kath's letter below and I'll respond to a couple of her points at the end of the post.
I have just read your recent article in Feral Thoughts and wanted to comment on some points.
Aerial culling is not a humane method of population control for any animal. You cannot humanely kill a fast moving animal from a moving platform and this has been verified by professional hunters. Horses that are riddled with bullets and left to die a slow agonising death, horse left to stagger around wounded and foals left to starve by their slaughtered mothers can never be considered humane. Then there are the environmental consequences of leaving the carcasses to rot and providing a food source for wild animals such as pigs and dogs. Yes Brumbies are unfortunately ending up in abattoirs but it is certainly a more humane way of killing them.
Hundreds of Brumbies have been successfully trapped and re-homed by several sanctuaries located in NSW since the Guy Fawkes slaughter – sanctuaries include Save The Brumbies, Guy Fawkes Heritage Horse Association and Oxley Brumbies. Brumbies do not pose a “risk” when rehomed and are well known as being highly intelligent, very easily trained to all riding disciples and form very strong bonds with their owners.
The Victorian Brumby Association also successfully rehomes Brumbies from trapping programs with National Parks and Wildlife - who have even stated themselves that “brumby running” is an ineffective method of reducing Brumby populations – and is also considered inhumane. Please see their website for more info http://www.victorianbrumbyassociation.org
Your comments on fertility control are not correct. The vaccine PZP has been used successfully in the
Please find enclosed pictures of Brumbies owned by our members and myself at
I hope this has highlighted the need for humane trapping methods to remain in place so that the valuable heritage Brumby bloodlines can continue.
President and Treasurer
Hunter Valley Brumby Association Inc
I am delighted that at least some brumbies are getting rehomed successfully and congratulations to Kath and others doing so - I don't think anyone would disagree that this is the best possible outcome. However, the evidence is that rehoming isn't keeping up with the growth in the brumby population in our Australian alps, so we have to do something else. Even if the animals are rehomed in hundreds, we need it done in thousands to have an impact.
Fertility control is not a viable option for the Alpine situation in Australia. Gonacon is now registered in the USA for use in white-tailed deer and I think it is a much better option that zona pellucida approaches. Our CRC is part of a research alliance to advance any fertility control options that might give viable options to wildlife managers. But we have to be realistic about their prospects and nothing is currently suitable. We are doing work on wallabies mainly, using Gonacon, but also the orally-active Contrapest approach from Senestech. For fertility control to work, we still need a big removal of the population and fertility control applied afterward in an attempt to keep the population low - it would have been ideal for example following the 2003 bushfire.
I'm not saying fertility control shouldn't be pursued, but that it be considered realistically in light of what is possible.
I disagree with Kath that transport of a wild animal to an abattoir is a preferable death to a bullet from the air, but this is really a matter of opinion I guess. If the animal has already been trapped and is destined for destruction, why not do it on the spot?
Posted by Tony Peacock, founder of 'Feral Thoughts'