Thursday, July 2, 2020

Majestic Icon or Invasive Pest? A War Over Australia’s Wild Horses - Full Article

Scientists say the animals, known as brumbies, must be culled because they are destroying rivers and endangering native wildlife. Rural activists call these efforts an attack on Australian heritage.

By Livia Albeck-Ripka
June 28 2020

ANGLERS REST, Australia — Coming over the rise, Philip Maguire gripped the mane of his white gelding and rose on his heels to survey the bush land. He had hoped to be photographed mustering wild horses, but the animals weren’t playing along.

“They were sitting up there on that ridge,” Mr. Maguire said of the horses, now spooked by the human intrusion. “They’ll come back,” he huffed. “I’ll run them again.”

Mr. Maguire, a 60-year-old cattleman, is leading a campaign to prevent the Australian authorities from culling the wild horses, known as brumbies. The clash traces some of the country’s biggest fault lines, including its urban-rural divide and the legacy of colonialism.

To scientists and the politicians who support the policy, culling is a matter of environmental protection. The horses, an invasive species whose populations are booming, must be removed because they are trampling ancient ecosystems in the Australian Alps already hurt by climate change, they say.

To Mr. Maguire and his followers, the fight is about a way of life they perceive to be under threat...

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