More than 7000 feral horses were shot in less than a week as part of a controversial aerial cull on two Aboriginal-controlled stations in the Kimberley.
The Department of Aboriginal Affairs revealed late yesterday that an initial count showed 7016 horses had been killed and would be left to decompose over the wet season.
A spokesman for the DAA and the Aboriginal Lands Trust, which controls Lake Gregory and Billiluna stations, said that the cull had been conducted as professionally and humanely as possible.
Pastoralists and Graziers Association president Rob Gillam said the number of horses killed showed action should have been taken much sooner.
Mr Gillam said opposition from horse rescue groups who claimed the numbers were in the hundreds had delayed action for a number of years and ultimately created the need to shoot such a high tally of animals.
The DAA estimates up to 3000 horses remain on the two stations and Mr Gillam warned a follow-up a cull would be needed next year.
Kimberley Wild Horses co- ordinator Libby Lovegrove said some traditional owners had expressed concerns about the carcasses polluting Lake Gregory, attracting wild dogs and the spread of botulism among cattle.
"When the rains come carcasses will wash into the lake, too," Ms Lovegrove said.
Mr Gillam agreed the carcasses would attract predators, but said in the Kimberley climate not much of the dead animals would remain by Christmas.