Singleton Military Training Area - Feral horse population control
18 December 2018
Defence seeks to be a good environmental steward.
From time to time this means Defence may be required to remove or control the population of feral or invasive species.
There are currently in excess of 100 feral horses on the Singleton Military Training Area.
The feral horses habitually live in an area where live firing takes place and where there is unexploded ordnance.
Feral horses are environmental pests, causing erosion and damaging vegetation.
The increasing population also presents a risk to ADF members undertaking training, particularly at night.
The Department understands that this is an emotive issue and that not everyone in the community will be supportive of this measure.
A range of control measures have previously been tried to manage the feral horse population in the Singleton Military Training Area, however these have only been partially successful. As a result, Defence has taken the difficult decision to control the feral horse population.
Defence notes a number of members of the community have also suggested herding the feral horses or ground based population control measures. These options are not new and have been tested in the past. Both options were unsuccessful and both present a risk of injury to both horses and humans.
In 2014, Defence undertook a trial to capture and rehome a number of the feral horses in the area. The trial was unsuccessful due to the trauma and stress suffered by the feral horses as a result of exposure from the live fire and bombing activities on the range. This trauma makes the horses more difficult to train in an attempt to rehome them.
Previous attempts have also been made to reduce the population through ground shooting. This had limited success and presents a risk to personnel due to the unexploded ordnance.
Under Federal Environmental legislation, feral horses have also been identified as a Key Threatening Process, which means that action should be taken to ensure the protection of environmental values.
Defence can assure members of the public that this feral population control measure is being carried out in accordance with relevant legislation and codes of practice. The RSPCA has been engaged throughout this process.