Experienced pastoralists and the RSPCA have backed a mass cull of thousands of feral horses on two Kimberley stations despite claims from the Aboriginal manager of one of the properties that he was not consulted.
Bililunna manager Mark Gordon wrote to Aboriginal Affairs Minister Peter Collier and Lands Minister Brendon Grylls last week pleading with them to prevent the cull.
The letter was signed by Mr Gordon and eight others who said they were traditional owners who had not been consulted and were opposed to aerial shooting of horses on their land.
The Aboriginal Lands Trust and the Kimberley Land Council yesterday rejected the claim, saying the cull had been discussed with traditional owners on several occasions and unanimously supported.
The ALT and the KLC said the cull was necessary to prevent an animal welfare disaster, for the economic viability of the stations and for the ALT to meet its legal obligations to control feral animals. The ALT had received breach notices from the Pastoral Lands Board and was in danger of forfeiting the valuable leases.
"At least we have a way forward to build economic sustainability for communities on those two properties," ALT's chairman Clinton Wolf said.
Haydn Sale, who runs nearby Yougawalla Station, said the ALT had no choice after investigating other options. "They were facing absolute disaster, thousands and thousands of horses stuck dying in the lake as it dried up," he said.
The cull started at Lake Gregory on Monday and there were unconfirmed reports from Kimberley Wild Horses yesterday that about 3000 horses had been shot.
Mr Gordon agreed urgent action was needed as the lake dried up but said he wanted to muster the horses to create employment. He said some would be kept for breeding, others gelded and old or sick horses put down.
The RSPCA and Mr Sale said mustering and trucking wild horses exposed them to a high risk of stress and injury.