SEVEN horseriders have been caught dismantling wild brumby traps in the Bogong High Plains.
Police have cautioned them but they apparently believed they were saving the animals from certain death.
They didn’t know Parks Victoria had been running a program of trapping and re-homing the brumbies for several years.
Sen-Constable Peter Johns, of Mount Beauty, said the Parks Victoria horse trappers were checking on traps at Mount Jim — between Falls Creek and Hotham — last Thursday when they saw some horses in the distance.
Upon closer inspection, they saw the group of five adults and two children who were in the middle of dismantling a trap by taking out the pins that held it together.
The group quickly rode off when approached but police and a Parks Victoria ranger tracked them down later that day at a local horse yard.
The group were part of a trail horseriding group and were from all over the Australia.
Sen-Constable Johns said two admitted to taking out the pins and hiding them.
“They were of the understanding that the trapped animals were taken away and destroyed,” he said.
“They were a bit aghast when they learned that’s not what happens — it’s not what they were expecting to hear.”
Parks Victoria has been undertaking wild horse trapping and re-homing in the Bogong High Plains since 2010, with about 80 animals removed from the area in that time.
More than 370 wild horses have been trapped and removed from the Alpine National Park since trapping began there in 2007.
Traps involves using salt lures to encourage horses to enter trap yards and once inside, a trip wire triggers the closure of the entry gate, leaving them with room to roam without escaping.
Traps are checked daily and horses are taken in by the Victorian Brumby Association, which works to care for and re-home them.
Parks Victoria acting regional director Helen Dixon said trapping was primarily for conservation purposes.
“All horses, regardless of age, are given the best care possible and are offered for re-homing, by donation to carers on private property, through partnerships with experienced re-homing groups,” she said.
Sen-Constable Johns said the group could have faced charges of criminal damage, theft and interfering with parks equipment but that a warning was deemed appropriate this time.
“They had a passion for horses,” he said.