Cull could be on cards for Coast’s wild horses
Euthanasia could be a management option if the feral horse population through the Tuan and Toolora state forest area continues to spiral out of control.
A spokeswoman from HQ Plantations said in the interest of public safety, a Feral Horse Management Plan was being developed for main roads through the forestry area, including Maryborough-Cooloola Rd.
"Feral horses are regularly sighted in proximity to these state-controlled roads, frequently slowing traffic, distracting drivers and increasing the risk of a serious collision," she said.
"Several recent collisions have resulted in the immediate death of horses but fortunately no serious driver injuries.
"HQ Plantations is leading the development of a management plan with local government and various state and Commonwealth agencies.
"Impacts from feral horses on the plantations is negligible and the focus is solely on public safety for road users."
RSPCA Queensland, the South East Queensland Brumby Association and a specialist feral horse management ecologist have also been consulted to ensure feral horse welfare is appropriately managed.
"A community reference group was established to ensure local perspectives on horse welfare and public safety expectations are shared with stakeholders during the development of the plan," the spokeswoman said.
"A hierarchy of controls is being assessed and developed to reduce the likelihood of a road user collision with a feral horse, ranging from passive to active management based on the level of threat to public safety.
"These include hazard management for imminent threats and a range of ongoing population management measures."
Research indicates that a feral horse population of over 2000 horses are present on the Fraser Coast, including State Forests in the area, which is estimated to be growing at a rate of 10 per cent per year.
Current efforts are focused on verifying population size, reproduction rates and range.
"Over the past 10 years, HQ Plantations has successfully removed approximately 115 horses from the Tuan Toolara State Forest areas using low stress capture techniques, which were then trained and rehomed in Queensland," the spokeswoman said.
"A total of 14 feral horses on Maryborough-Cooloola and Tin Can Bay roads have been captured for rehoming over five separate occasions in the past 12 months.
"Where the feral horses are healthy, do not pose an imminent threat to public safety, are able to be efficiently captured and trained, and suitable homes can be found for them, low stress capture, removal and rehoming will continue to be one of a suite of methods for population control.
"When it has been assessed that feral horses pose a severe and immediate risk to road users due to their presence in road corridors, they will be removed by the safest and most expedient means necessary to protect public safety.
"This may require euthanasia, which would be carried out by appropriately qualified professionals under the supervision of a veterinarian to ensure it was performed humanely.
"Drivers should be aware of the possibility of feral horses adjacent to or crossing major thoroughfares in the vicinity of the Tuan Toolara State Forests, particularly Tin Can Bay Road and Maryborough Cooloola Road.
"Proceeding with caution is advised in either direction in accordance with existing signage, particularly at night."