An 11th hour court application to stop Parks Victoria from shooting brumbies in the Alpine National Park has paid off for the community-led appeal.
A last-minute injunction was filed in the Victorian Supreme Court on Monday morning, at the same time the aerial cull was due to begin.
Led by Omeo cattleman Phil Maguire, and a growing band of social media followers, the plan to kill the feral horses has been put on hold.
"No alpine brumbies have been shot," Mr Maguire posted on the Rural Resistance Facebook page.
"The Victorian Government has called off the shooting program until next Tuesday.
"Whether it happens then will depend on the results of our court case next Monday.
"We will need your help in the meantime but for now you can breathe a sigh of relief and celebrate.
"Essentially the government accept service and agreed to abandon shooting for the agreed time."
Parks Victoria were given the green light to begin the cull when they won a Federal Court case against the Australian Brumby Alliance earlier this month.
Parks Victoria did not answer any questions put to them by The Border Mail on Monday.
Instead directed their response to a statement by chief executive Matthew Jackson from Friday.
"Parks Victoria has a legal and moral obligation to protect the native species that are at risk of extinction from the impacts of feral horses and other pest animals," he said.
"The conservation of Alpine National Park is key to this.
"Native alpine plants and animals which are found nowhere else on the planet are not equipped to deal with the weight, grazing, hard hooves or trampling of feral horses.
"The 2019-20 bushfires wiped out very large areas of habitat for our unique native species.
"The areas less affected by fire now provide the only habitat for threatened native species and are being severely damaged by feral horses, whose numbers have significantly increased in the past five years."
PLAN 'DESERVES RESPECT'
Victorian National Parks Association's park protection advocate Phil Ingamells said while he agrees "no one wants to kill animals", the numbers have gotten out of hand.
"It has gotten to a point where there are 25,000 brumbies across the alpine areas," he said.
"The people opposed to the cull have inadvertently caused the alpine numbers to grow to this extreme number because they have halted Parks Victoria from controlling them.
"The moss beds and fens, high altitude wetlands and peatlands, listed as threatened under both Victorian and national environmental laws, are especially vulnerable to trampling by horses, and any other hard hooved animals.
"Since the abolition of cattle grazing in the Alpine National Park, these wetlands have been slowly recovering, only to be impacted now by a growing number of feral horses. Surveys have shown that horse numbers across the Australian Alps National Parks increased from around 9000 in 2014 to 25,000 in 2019.
"That situation is an intolerable one for park managers responsible for protection of our natural heritage, and the headwaters of our mountain catchments.
"Parks Victoria's plan for management of the park, including for the removal of the horses, has been highly consultative, principled and evidence-based.
"It deserves the respect of the community."
The Australian Brumby Alliance launched legal action against Parks Victoria culling the horses 18-months ago, but were ruled against in the Federal Court on May 8.
Mr Ingamells said due to the long-running court case the brumby numbers have been "allowed" to grow.
"There hasn't been any controlling of them during that time, that is why it has come to this now," he said.
"No one likes killing animals, and for some reason there is a lot of heart with the horses, but the aerial culls have been the
The thought of horses "running for their lives" from guns in a helicopter is what high country landowners say "just isn't right".
Anglers Rest residents have joined mounting outrage over a Federal Court decision to allow Parks Victoria to kill brumbies in the Alpine National Parks.
And for many living on land which shares boundaries with the national park, there are other pests which they believe should be targeted first.
Graham Brown told The Border Mail said other wild animals, including pigs, goats and deer, should be a priority.
"Brumbies are just beautiful animals and there are probably seven other pests that they should be looking at controlling first," he said.
"I can look out my window and see 10 deer standing on my paddock.
"Brumbies impact doesn't compare to what the deer and other pests are doing to the land."
Mr Brown, who has had a property in the high country for more than 50 years, said he has spotted a black stallion from time to time.
"He is a beautiful thing to see," he said.
"Brumbies are something of an icon to Australians so to have them shot from a helicopter "is just wrong".
AERIAL CULL NOT ON
Cathy McCoy admits she has a soft spots for horses, but aerial culls of the brumbies "isn't the answer".
"On the Bogong High Plains there may be 100 up there but I am not sure how easy it is to count horses out of a helicopter," she said.
"I don't think there has been enough counting actually done, how you count a wild animal is beyond me.
"I also don't think they are doing all the damage to the land which they are accused of."
Ms McCoy said there has to be a better way to cull the feral horses.
"There is something pretty horrific about seeing a horse running for its life from guns in a helicopter," she said.
"And cartwheeling down the hill because it has been shot in the shoulder.
"I have no doubt there are some very good marksmen out there but there has to be a more humane way if they are going to kill them.
"I love horses and the brumby and they are apart of my family's history.
"We have been here for a six generations on this property.
"We have been next door to public land for a long time now and I don't think brumbies are the biggest issue."
SUPPORT FROM THE STARS
Social media has continued to play a large part in the ongoing brumby debate, with Australian actor Isabel Lucas calling on her 195,000 Instagram followers to support saving the horses.
"Calling the horse lovers," the former Home and Away star said in a post on Monday.
"Brumbies are under threat after the Australian Brumby Alliance lost their fight against Parks Victoria to stop the planned cull of the wild brumbies that have lived in the Alps for nearly 200 years.
"Shooters with infrared equipment have begun picking off unsuspecting horses one by one as they rest watching over their foals and herd mates.
"Make no mistake, this will not be humane.
"Horses are flight animals and panic easily which will make them impossibly hard to kill cleanly.
"Many will be injured and foals will be left without mothers or injured in the dark while running in terror."
Lucas encouraged her Victorian followers to sign the e-petition to the Victorian Government and everyone else to sign the change.org petition.