From Animal Australia, September 2010
WA's (Western Australia) Indigenous Affairs Minister Kim Hames has halted a planned aerial shoot of wild horses at Lake Gregory station in the Kimberley due to an overwhelming community response on behalf of the animals. Minister Hames has been inundated with protest letters and emails appealing for a non-lethal solution.
A massive helicopter kill of the estimated 5,000 Arab-derived wild horses on the station (inland from Broome) was due to commence next month to make way for a restocking with beef cattle. Public concern had previously forced the government to abandon plans to truck the horses to South Australia for slaughter.
Animals Australia Executive Director Glenys Oogjes welcomed the decision:
"Animals Australia applauds Minister Hames' decision to seek a humane non-lethal management plan for the Lake Gregory Station horses. Killing the horses should never have been considered as an appropriate solution".
"This decision not to shoot and kill the Lake Gregory wild horses is a significant one, and I hope it heralds some new thinking about the way wild horses and other 'feral' animals are managed in the future. The welfare of feral animals is given scant attention or protection in Australia and that must change", concluded Ms Oogjes.
- The WA Department of Indigenous Affairs (DIA) oversees the pastoral lease at Lake Gregory and was under an order from the Pastoral Lands Board to remove the horses. DIA originally planned to muster and truck the horses almost 3,000km to South Australia to be slaughtered for export for human consumption.
- That transport plan was abandoned in July after an avalanche of community protest and on the advice of a specially convened Animal Welfare Advisory Committee that the transport would contravene WA's Animal Welfare Act 2002.
- DIA then planned an aerial kill of the horses for October. Aerial shooting of wild horses causes fear and distress during the helicopter chase and inevitable wounding of some horses. In previous shoots mares have aborted, foals have been trampled, and some wounded horses have been left to slowly die.
- The aerial kill plan has now also been overturned by Minister Hames. An aerial count will be conducted, then an expert committee will be convened to consider non-lethal management options for the property.