Protestors in the Riverina's highlands are pleading for the state government to conduct an independent brumby count amid pleas to stop the imminent aerial culling of the horses in the Kosciusco National Park.
Member for Wagga Joe McGirr last month backed an announcement by the government that it would soon begin culling brumbies with official figures estimating there are now as many as 18,800 in NSW.
A preliminary shooting program developed with an independent wildlife veterinarian and RSPCA NSW is set to begin shortly, with areas of the national park to be closed during this process.
About 180 faithful brumby supporters marched on the National Parks and Wildlife Service in Tumut on Saturday, calling for the government to conduct an independent count of brumby numbers.
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Organiser Di Hardley believes the counting system is "flawed" and said this point was made clear by biostatician Claire Galea who spoke at the protest.
"Claire is a highly accredited biostatician with animal counting who was [involved] in the kangaroo inquiry where it was proved that the formula is incorrect," Ms Hardley said.
She believes the official figures are well above the actual numbers and is now calling on environment minister Penny Sharpe to sit down with Ms Galea and formulate a new counting system.
Ms Hardley said Ms Sharpe's decision to put "aerial shooting back on the agenda" is something "any Australian" believes to be "cruel."
She believes there are less than 3000 in the national park and claimed that if the government pays for transporting horses to be re-homed it would be cheaper than culling them.
Since 2002, over 1500 horses have been re-homed from Kosciuszko National Park and Ms Hardley believes most of these have been re-homed since 2021.
She said the horses are also a strong part of the region's heritage and not wild pests.
However, environmental groups disagree and have long called for the use of aerial shooting.
This move was also supported at a federal parliamentary inquiry in early October, which found native species in the alps are facing extinction if something is not done to address that.
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