Monday, April 22, 2024

DOC saddles up new tools in Kaimanawa horses management

A successful muster of Kaimanawa horses has seen 88 moved to approved homes and another group of mares put into a contraception programme to limit herd growth and reduce environmental impacts, the Department of Conservation (DOC) has revealed.

The muster, held annually following the advice of the Kaimanawa Wild Horse Advisory Group to manage the herd at sustainable levels within the Waiouru Military Training Area, allows the horses in the wild to maintain best condition and protects the fragile ecosystems unique to the Moawhango Ecological zone.

DOC Central Plateau Operations Manager, Dave Lumley says rehoming is fundamental to the success of the programme, but other tools are being implemented to increase sustainability.

“Over the next few years, we will continue to administer contraception to some horses and monitor the success of the programme. Keeping the horses healthy and at sustainable levels is what everyone wants,” he said.

Kaimanawa Heritage Horses Welfare Society (KHH) spokesperson, Sue Rivers says rehoming and its associated limitations were frustrating and not sustainable as a long-term management option.

“Over a decade of extensive research and drive has gone into seeing the contraceptive option implemented so we are incredibly proud to see our efforts have meant this alternative has become a tool to help reduce both population growth and the need for rehoming musters,” she said.

The contraceptive is injected by qualified veterinarians and will suppress fertility in adult mares for up to four years.

Mr Lumley says DOC was grateful to KHH for its significant contributions to the process of managing the herd.

“We’re fortunate to have enduring partnerships with groups like the KHH, the military, SPCA and others to ensure we have a robust and sustainable management plan.”

“Working together means we will see healthy Kaimanawa horses in the wild into the future,” he said.

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