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Kaimanawa horses in top condition: DOC

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 19/04/2016

Most, if not all, of the wild horses mustered in the central North Island next week will go to new homes, the Department of Conservation says.

The biennial muster of 100 Kaimanawa horses will start mid-week at the Waiouru Military Training Area, weather permitting.

Kaimanawa Heritage Horses and Kaimanawa Wild Horse Protection Society have received more than 160 applications to re-home the animals.

Last month a plea went out for more homes amid fears most animals would have to be slaughtered.

A helicopter survey showed the horses were in top condition, with the foals bigger and stronger than in previous years, says DOC operations manager Dave Lumley.

The muster has been moved forward by three weeks to avoid the early onset of winter.

"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," Mr Lumley said.

The aim of the muster is to keep the Kaimanawa horse population down to about 300. The number allows the horses to maintain best condition while also helping protect the plants in the Moawhango Ecological zone.

Horses were first released in the area in the 1870s and culls and musters of the wild population began in 1993, with thousands removed from the area.

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