New sighting of feral horses as book about brumbies released

A REPORTED sighting of feral horses on Fraser Island has coincided with the release of a new book criticising the State Government for removing the brumbies.

A spokeswoman from the Department of Environment and Science said there had been one anecdotal report from a member of the public regarding a sighting of the few remaining feral horses on the island, but there was no indication of an exact date or location.

"Monitoring cameras have not captured any further footage of feral horses," the spokeswoman said.

Up until 2016 it was widely believed that all the brumbies had been removed from the island.

The wild horses were first targeted for removal in the 1980s and in 2003, dozens were removed by the Environmental Protection Agency.

But in July 2016, the Chronicle contacted the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service in regards to sightings of the brumbies and the department confirmed that the continued presence of the horses had been discovered in January 2014.

Motion detecting cameras on the island, which had been set up to record dingo behaviour, captured footage of the feral horses in the northern part of the island.

The department had also received a report of eight feral horses allegedly sighted by a tourism officer north of Moon Point.

Meanwhile, a new book titled Equine Epitaph - Under the Rainbow: Fraser Island's Last Brumby, written by Fred Williams, has recently been released.

According to a promotional blurb from Balboa Press, the book discusses the states of the "critically endangered" Suffolk punch horses that were "shot and removed by the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service" on Fraser Island.

The book argues that management of the island and its resources needs to change.

Accompanied by historical pictures, the book begins with the history of Fraser Island, including information about the wild horses living and adapting to the island.

In the book Williams argues QPWS removed or killed the majority of horses "without any comprehensive independent scientific research and without the approval of the community who own the asset".

A spokesman from the Department of Environment and Science responded to those claims.

He said the cardinal principle for the management of national parks in Queensland is to provide, to the greatest possible extent, for the permanent preservation of the area's natural condition and the protection of the area's cultural resources and values.

"Feral horses were introduced to Australia in 1788, they are not native to Australian landscapes and cause significant damage to the environment including erosion and the degradation of waterways," the spokesman said.

"Feral horses are designated invasive animals in Queensland, and are not compatible with conserving national park values."

The spokesman said QPWS continues to monitor for feral horses on Fraser Island and will consider options for their removal in line with the park's management plan.

"Non-lethal means of removal is the preferred approach," he said.

"A monitoring program has been implemented with cameras installed at 10 locations in the island's north.

"Rangers also look for horse tracks and droppings in the course of their duties."

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