Monday’s Four Corners asks whether high country horses are a national icon or feral pests?
The bitter clash of culture over Australia’s wild horses, in “Feral”, reported by Adam Harvey.
Whatever life I’ve got left in me, I’ll fight for them.” Business owner and horse activist
In the magnificent high country of the Snowy Mountains, wild horses roam the land. Immortalised and celebrated in poems, books and films, these ‘brumbies’ are a spectacular sight, inspiring deep emotions.
“You read that poem ‘The Man from Snowy River’… it expresses a great bonding and a great spiritual connection between these people and this culture that’s in the mountains.” Business owner and horse activist
Not everyone subscribes to this romantic view of the history these horses are said to represent.
“This is a culture war. This is where they want to dominate what they think Australia is…The colonial crowd feel that they are the mountain men and women and they have a monopoly over what this place is.” River guide
An ugly divide is cutting through the country towns and surrounding mountains. At the centre of it is a question – are these horses a national icon or feral pests?
“If horses are allowed to persist in these really sensitive areas, they’re going to destroy them. The park is under significant threat.” Former park ranger
Ecologists and rangers have been warning that one of the nation’s most precious national parks is in deep trouble with soaring horse numbers creating major damage to the protected environment.
“The grass is an inch high. Piles of manure every 20 metres. The banks of Currango Creek completely trodden down…The water in it, instead of being gin clear, you can’t even see the bottom. The erosion caused by the horses is just dramatic.” Volunteer
Horse activists completely reject any assertions that the brumbies are to blame.
“We don’t trust the science. And the science has been corrupted by politics.” Business owner and horse activist
They believe the brumbies, and Australia’s national identity are under attack.
“If it wasn’t for the horses, there’s nothing left to prove that we existed. They’re the last piece.” Horse activist
The debate has turned ugly with online abuse, property damage and even death threats.
“If you speak out and you’re threatening a strongly held belief, some people are going to react, and I’m expecting that here.” Ecologist and farmer
The stakes couldn’t be higher for these majestic mountains, captured in stunning Four Corners’ cinematography from the land and the air.
“I’m a lover of the mountains, I love horses too, but for the preservation of that ecology – good science rather than romantic bullshit should be listened to.” Farmer
Monday 21st February at 8.30pm on ABC.