Uproar in Australia over wild horse cull

State of Queensland plans to shoot 10,000 'brumbies', claiming they damage fragile national park habitats
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The Independent Online

The northern Australian state of Queensland plans to shoot 10,000 feral horses, known as brumbies, that it claims are damaging fragile habitats in national parks.

The Brisbane-based Courier Mail newspaper reported yesterday that the state government had instructed shooters in some areas to hide the bodies to conceal the extent of the cull. In an email exchange released under freedom of information laws, the Environment Minister, Lindy Nelson-Carr, told former Queensland premier Peter Beattie that the killing of horses "has the potential to precipitate vocal opposition from small special-interest groups with strong, inflexible views".

More than 4,000 feral horses have already been shot in the popular Carnarvon National Park in central Queensland, according to the newspaper, and there were plans to kill 10,000 more across the state. The cull has caused outrage across Australia, where the brumbie has etched itself into the national image.

The cull is being carried out by marksmen in helicopters, trained to shoot the horses in the chest, which the State Sustainability Minister, Andrew McNamara, said was the most humane option. Activists have claimed that many brumbies are left to die a slow, painful death. Jan Carter, a campaigner from Save the Brumbies, said: "The shooting of the horses is simply barbaric." A spokesman for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said they "reluctantly accept some sort of cull, but we believe something should have been done years ago".