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Carnarvon National Park Feral Animal Management Program
What is happening at Carnarvon National Park?
Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) has an ongoing strategic feral animal control program in remote areas of Carnarvon National Park, to reduce numbers of pest animals including horses that are damaging the park's natural and cultural values.
This strategic pest management program includes mustering, trapping, shooting and baiting, depending on the species and location of animals.
Why does QPWS need to reduce feral animals?
While the program at Carnarvon National Park targeted a variety of feral animals, horses in particular are causing significant damage to the areas natural and cultural assets.
Their numbers were expanding at a rate that could not be sustained by the fragile local environment. Unless checked, these numbers simply cannot be sustained with starvation and unpleasant death an unfortunate consequence.
QPWS has an obligation under law to protect national parks. It would be irresponsible to let the problem at Carnarvon continue.
Who has been consulted?
The program was developed in close consultation over the past year with key stakeholders including animal welfare organisations, Biosecurity Queensland; neighbouring landholders; conservation groups including Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland and the National Parks Association of Queensland; and rural group AgForce.
What are the alternatives?
The feral animal control program at Carnarvon National Park includes a mix of options. Mustering and trapping are QPWS preferred first options, and are done where practicable and where it is unlikely to impact on the welfare of the horses. Mustering by contractors has been attempted in two large areas of Carnarvon totalling about 86,000 hectares, but no animals were able to be removed.
In areas of the park with rugged terrain and limited access, shooting is considered to be the most appropriate control method.
How humane is the control program?
The QPWS has worked closely with Biosecurity Queensland and the RSPCA to ensure that the program is been conducted humanely and meets best practice animal welfare standards. Both Biosecurity Queensland and RSPCA are satisfied this has been achieved. Five independent operational reviews have been carried out and have verified full compliance with nationally recognised model codes of practice, standard operating procedures and best practice humane destruction outcomes.
QPWS must comply with the provisions of the Animal Care and Protection Act, and strictly adheres to codes of practice and standard operating procedures for animal welfare.
All marksmen are accredited through the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry / QPWS Helicopter Marksman Training Course, and have experience in conducting aerial control programs.
How is the control program being conducted?
The aim is to achieve a sustained reduction in the overall population. QPWS won't be removing all the horses, just bringing the numbers down to a manageable level that is not damaging the park.
Is it just horses being targeted?
No. Horses are one species in the feral animal control program at Carnarvon - pigs, cats, foxes and goats are some of the others.