The Liberal Nationals have listened to communities in Victoria's High Country and are supporting their calls for the State Government's brumby cull to be halted.
The Nationals leader and opposition Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh said brumbies were an iconic part of our state's cultural identity, and while maintaining biodiversity in Victoria's parks is necessary, any management of brumby populations must be conducted ethically and sustainably.
He said the high country communities have made it clear they don't support Labor's brumby cull and even the Andrews Government's 2018 Feral Horse Strategic Action Plan recognised that, finding that shooting had "limited public support" and should only be used as a last resort.
It's estimated there are about 300 sambar deer for every brumby in Victoria's High Country.
Mr Walsh said Premier Daniel Andrews was ignoring country communities and Labor's own policy by pushing ahead with this cull.
"Despite targeting brumbies, other destructive animals like deer, wild dogs and pigs are running wild through our national parks and forests because the Andrews Government has failed to put appropriate control measures in place," he said.
Opposition Environment spokeswoman Bridget Vallence said the State Government had failed to adequately engage in public consultation before deciding to shoot brumbies.
"Minister Lily D'Ambrosio has gone missing in action, and must immediately intervene to stop this cull and engage with regional communities," she said.
"A cull is not the only option available to the government to manage brumbies," she said.
"The Liberal Nationals believe more effort should be made to prioritise mustering and rehoming of these majestic animals.
"Any government plan must be humane and recognise the important and unique contribution of brumbies to our national cultural heritage."
On Monday in the Supreme Court of Victoria, the State Government did not oppose an application for an injunction which was lodged by Phil Maguire, a mountain cattle farmer from Omeo, to stop the state government agency, Parks Victoria, from executing a cull of the alpine region's wild brumbies.
Locals reported sightings of shooters being placed in position over the weekend, ready to commence the slaughter on Monday.
Leading the fight to save the brumbies, champion of the brumbies, Phil Maguire told radio on Monday that he would continue to shelter them "until Daniel Andrews is no longer Premier."
Western Victorian MP Bev McArthur said that while Monday court action was a small victory, it demonstrated that with enough rural resistance, the bureaucrats from Bourke Street and their masters in Spring Street would not succeed in their mission to destroy an irreplaceable part of Victoria's history and heritage.
"The efforts by so many living near the Bogong High Plains to save these iconic horses, particularly Phil and Louise Maguire, is a victory for real people who love these remarkable horses and this rugged alpine area. It's a victory of considerable proportion and a welcome stay of execution for these majestic animals," she said.
"Daniel Andrews, Lily D'Ambrosio and Parks Victoria, should hang their heads in shame for allowing this sinister plan to be hatched under their watch and worse, being directly complicit in what would have amounted to a massacre of the descendants of Victoria's great equine soldiers.
"This plan is emblematic of this government's preoccupation with matters inside the tram tracks of Melbourne, their disdain for country life outside the tram tracks, as well as their complete inability to properly manage our parks and forests.
"This particular failure resulted in great tracks of land, forest, wildlife, homes and livelihoods and lives being devastated by bushfires, exacerbated by government failure to manage forest and roadside fuel loads.
"The fight to save these wild horses is not over and the battle must continue but this 'stay of execution' is a welcome development."
Have you signed up to The Standard's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in the south-west.