The science on the impact of wild horses and the environment is now in. The benefits outweigh the negatives. The only reason that authorities have used to demonize wild horses is falsified.
It was all about the money, or they would have targeted more than just Lake Gregory and Frazier Downs Station’s horses with their helicopter cull. There are now wild horses associated with cattle stations all over Australia, abandoned by pastoralists once helicopter mustering became the norm.
This paper is by well known author and ecologist, Craig Downer.
A short excerpt:
[...] Their cropping of vegetation, often dry and coarse,
reduces the possibility for major, soil-sterilizing fires
(though ecologically healthy, minor ones still occur). This
cropping sparks vegetative renewal, the re-budding of new
and tender shoots of greater nutritional value, especially to
ruminants whose digestive and metabolic systems are overtaxed
by the coarse, dry vegetation that horses and burros
can better handle. And, thus, the overall productivity of the
land is annually increased, as studies prove. [45, 46] Also,
as earlier noted, these equids disperse the seeds for
successful germination of many of the plants they eat as
well as fertilize the soils with their droppings. For their
neighbors including the ruminant grazers, their presence is
truly “win-win.” And this I have also observed to be the
case with the threatened Greater Sage Grouse in places
such as eastern Nevada’s Triple B Complex of HMAs. Here
these impressive lek-forming birds thrive alongside the
spirited mustang bands [...]
They are GOOD for the environment it seems.
[...] Wild horses form tight-knit stallion- and elder-maregoverned
bands. Over time, each band searches out and
establishes its own home range, which may cover hundreds
of square miles on an annual basis in drier regions. The
ecological mosaic that results among all such particular
band home ranges in a given Herd Area/Territory and
suitable adjoining areas prevents overcrowding and
overgrazing. Once available habitat is filled, the
horse/burro, as a climax species, limits its own population
as density-dependent controls are triggered.
This paper is based on the North American mustangs and burros, but can equally be applied in Australia.
On a recent trip into the Lake Gregory region, several skeletons were found lying in dried out ephemeral clay pans, without bullet holes in the heads, signifying they were not headshots that killed them.Craig Downer has an interview here with an Australian Brumby supporter: A Scientifically Sane, Humane Approach to Wild Horse …:
Renowned Wildlife Ecologist Craig Downer sticks up for Australian Brumbies. By Mae Lee Sun
- Some images here from Craig Downer and Mark Carroll, click to enlarge …