Brumby Control In Australia

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The Australian brumby is an iconic species, often associated with an earlier time in Australian history with a sense of romanticism. However it seems that this once revered species is now seen as a domestic threat to agricultural communities in New South Wales and Victoria. Wild brumbies came about in the countries’ early years when introduced horses escaped from poorly fenced paddocks or were lost during cattle musters. Over time these herds have growth rate of 20% per year in non-drought years (Lundie-Jenkins. G, Maag. G and Manning. B, 2006) and as a result Australia now has the world’s largest population of feral horses. While some small brumby populations boost the tourist industry in remote regions such as the Victorian tundra, large…show more content…
Out of these techniques, mustering and roping are the preferred methods of capturing brumbies (Sharp, T. and G. Saunders, 2008). This form of brumby control is far more labour intensive and expensive than culling. Volunteers from private brumby sanctuaries typically under take this task and take on the responsibility of relocating the brumbies once they are captured (Melzer, R and Whitehead, A, 2008). This method however is not only labour intensive, it also has a very prevalent element of danger to both the people and brumbies involved. The majority of brumbies in the New South Wales and Victoria regions have limited to no contact with humans and tend to respond with the flight instinct when stressed. This makes mustering and roping dangerous as the brumbies tend to run blindly away from the stimulus that is causing them stress (Sharp, T. and G. Saunders, 2008). In doing this, there is an extremely high possibility of the brumbies stumbling and breaking limbs. If this were to happen, they would have to be euthanized on site. Once the brumbies have been trapped, the younger, healthier brumbies are taken to the sales yards and typically broken to be sold and used for domestic purposes. Those that are too old are taken to an abattoir while the remaining brumbies that are unfit for transport are…show more content…
Currently in Australia there is only one horse contraceptive available. This contraceptive is a PZP vaccination that can prevent a mare from foaling for up to a year (Kirkpatrick, J.F. and J.W. Turner, Jr, 2008). An American study found that this contraceptive vaccination combined with the hormone GHD can extend this period of infertility to up to three years without the mare experiencing side effects (Killian, G., D. Thain, N. K. Diehl, J. Rhyan and L. Miller, 2008), (See Appendix 1 for conception rates). This contraception however can only be effective if it is administered as an injection directly into the blood stream. In order to implement this control method, the brumby mares would have to be trapped in an enclosure and then given the vaccination via a dart gun (Killian, G., D. Thain, N. K. Diehl, J. Rhyan and L. Miller, 2008). In order to overcome this issue, a salt lick contraceptive is being trailed in Australia with aim to replicate the same effectives of the vaccination contraceptive. A salt lick version of the contraception however also has its own disadvantages out in the field. This is because there is no way of knowing if any of the mares are actually eating enough of the lick, if any, to achieve the right dosage to prevent foaling (Kirkpatrick, J.F. and J.W. Turner, Jr, 2008).

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