Wild horses could replace fire

WILD horses are important parts of the ecosystem even though they are considered feral pests, according to an American ecologist.

Craig Downer visited the New England Brumby Sanctuary recently to discover more about its rescue and contraception program.

He said while this experiment would help reduce populations in the wild, it was his belief brumbies had changed ecosystems in a positive way.

“Brumbies fill a niche in the ecology but they also self-limit in the areas they inhabit if there are not enough resources,” he said.

Mr Downer wants the brumbies to be racing on a distant hillside, just as depicted in The Man from Snowy River, as they have a valued position in our heritage.

He wants to see special reserves established for the brumbies within their habitat, rather than seeing them removed via extermination or trapping.

Mr Downer’s research explores how wild horses have changed the environment, which he says isn’t detrimental to the ecology. 

“They can actually increase the productivity of the land and they eat a lot of the dry and flammable material … which decreases the risk of catastrophic fires,” he said.

Despite Australia’s bushlands being fire adaptive ecosystems, Mr Downer believes horses can emulate the role of fire by clearing dry vegetation.