THERE are about 150 wild brumbies in Barrington Tops National Park, according to the volunteer group that fights on their behalf.
They are beautiful, a part of the region’s heritage, and an additional tourist drawcard to a stunning part of the state, say Hunter Valley Brumby Association members like Kath Massey.
They are a feral pest that should be removed from the national park, say others who object to them.
The fate of the Barrington Tops brumbies is up in the air pending completion of a wild horse management plan for Mt Kosciuszko National Park in early 2016, with brumby supporters concerned that a heated environmental debate over the Kosciuszko brumbies, including suggestions of culls, could have a serious impact on the Hunter’s brumbies.
‘‘Everyone is waiting to see what happens with the Kosciuszko plan of management, and we’re all pretty nervous about it,’’ Ms Massey said.
Brumbies are believed to have roamed the Barrington Tops for 170 years. Another 200 brumbies remain on Department of Defence land at Singleton, and are subject to a 2014 management plan to remove and rehome them over coming years.
Hunter Valley Brumby Association accepts and rehomes brumbies caught in the wild, and currently has 30 in its care.
Ms Massey and association vice president Madison Young believe the environmental debate that is raging over the future of thousands of Kosciuszko brumbies is skewed against retaining brumbies in the iconic Snowy Mountain area, and threatens the future of brumbies in Barrington Tops.
In a submission on the Kosciuszko debate Mrs Young, an environmental scientist, used figures supplied by the National Parks and Wildlife Service to show that the existing management plan had led to a 40 per cent drop in the density of brumbies in the Snowy region.
‘‘We have quite a good relationship with the Parks and Wildlife managers at Barrington Tops, but we are concerned about the impact of the Kosciuszko plan,’’ Mrs Young said.
The National Parks and Wildlife Service said a wild horse management strategy for Barrington Tops was in its early stages. Information about the size, distribution and impact of the horses is being collected.
Asked if the Kosciuszko wild horses plan would have an impact on how the service deals with horses at Barrington Tops, the spokesperson said plans would be developed for the needs of specific areas.