Date: 19 April 2016
The muster of 100 Kaimanawa wild horses will start mid next week at the Waiouru Military Training Area, weather permitting.
The re-homing groups Kaimanawa Heritage Horses and Kaimanawa Wild Horse Protection Society have received over 160 applications this year, and are confident most, if not all horses will be re-homed.
The groups have been busy for the last month assessing prospective homes as suitable to take in wild horses.
The muster is held every two years by the Department of Conservation to manage the herd at the sustainable level of 300 horses recommended by the Kaimanawa Wild Horse Advisory Group (KWHAG). This number allows for horses in the herd to maintain best condition, and protects the fragile ecosystems unique to the Moawhango Ecological Zone.
Operations Manager Dave Lumley says this year’s aerial survey undertaken by DOC with veterinary assistance showed horses in “top condition” with foals bigger and stronger than in previous years.
The muster was moved forward by 3 weeks this year to prevent weather postponements and increased risk management requirements due to early winter conditions. The decision to move the muster forward was agreed upon by KWHAG in 2014, to improve the process for the horses and avoid harsh winter conditions experienced in the last muster.
“The muster itself is a complex operation in challenging terrain and often extreme weather conditions, where horse welfare and the safety of the operational team are paramount,” says Mr Lumley.
The unique tussock grassland where the horses roam contain threatened plants, including at least 16 species in the New Zealand Threat Classification System, some of which are found nowhere else in the world. Many of these plants occur in habitats that can sustain very little disturbance from horses.
- The Kaimanawa Horse Management Plan has three core objectives:
- to ensure the welfare of the horses is dealt with appropriately
- to promote the sustainability of the natural features and ecosystems of the Moawhango Ecological District, with respect to Kaimanawa wild horse impacts
- to manage the Kaimanawa wild horse herd at a sustainable level.
- The Kaimanawa Wild Horse Advisory Group provides advice to the Department of Conservation on implementing the management plan. It consists of representatives from NZDF, DOC, Kaimanawa Heritage Horses, Kaimanawa Wild Horse Preservation Society, iwi, SPCA, Forest & Bird, NZ Veterinary Association, Conservation Board and adjoining landowners.
- The Department of Conservation in conjunction with the New Zealand Defence Force has moved the 2016 muster date forward by three weeks to prevent weather postponements and increased risk management requirements due to early winter conditions.
- The decision to move the muster forward was agreed upon by KWHAG in 2014, to improve the process for the horses and avoid harsh winter conditions experienced in the last muster.
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