Brumby supporters have hit back at government plans to undertake a cull in the state's high country with claims that population estimates are "biologically impossible". President of pro-brumby group Snowyhorseriders, Huts and Brumbies, Alan Lanyon, says the Cairns survey results of Kosciuszko National Park (KNP) brumbies "would give wildly exaggerated populations". The Cairns report is where the government got its population estimation 18,000 horses, around which it has justified its decision for a cull. Mr Lanyon said population figures used by environmental lobby groups, including the Invasive Species Council, were based primarily on misrepresentations by the Cairns population survey results. "Scrutiny of all of Cairns' work will reveal that the numbers actually seen are wildly disproportionate to the final numbers cited, followed by the relevant ministers and the National Parks and Wildlife Services (NPWS)," Mr Lanyon said. "Cairns' methodology has been comprehensively dismantled by individuals well qualified to do so." One individual who believes the Cairns methodology is incorrect is Joanne Canning, who has a Bachelor of Science in Equine Sports Science. In her report, Wild Horse Population Surveys Kosciuszko National Park, Ms Canning said surveys using the software "applied by Cairns have produced estimates that are scientifically and biologically not possible". Ms Canning said "the supposed annual increase of 37 per cent in the North Kosciuszko area between 2014 and 2019 is approximately double the accepted scientific maximum". Dr Stuart Cairns, who conducted the report and works as a consultant for the NPWS, uses a method called distance sampling to determine brumby population estimates. "In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with the methodology, some people are just unwilling to accept the results. My work has been peer reviewed," Dr Cairns said. "Distance sampling is the methodology used by between 15,000 and 20,000 practitioners worldwide. "I am a consultant and have no opinion either way as to what the management plan is for the brumbies. I get the results and do a report on them. That's it." Dr Cairns said surveys have been consistent when they have been conducted, including 2014, 2019, 2020 with an anomaly in 2022. "Surprisingly, there were higher numbers in the south of the park," he said. "We will see if those numbers are there in this year's survey." Mr Lanyon, however, believes the methodology was chosen to inflate numbers. "In my opinion, and that of almost all of the pro-brumby fraternity, is that NPWS deliberately deployed the Cairns methodology because it would give wildly exaggerated populations that has been effectively used by NPWS and now Governments of both persuasions to spread misrepresentations in the public arena and recruit public support for the removal and shooting of the snowy brumbies," Mr Lanyon said. "The actual, unpublished population counts undertaken by NPWS most accurately reflect the actual population. These numbers had to be retrieved under the GIPA Act (freedom of information). "My opinion is guided by the number of years that I have spent as a recreational horse-rider in the northern end of Kosciuszko National Park and my own observations and data collection over the last 10 years. "I have taken part in five aerial observation flights over the northern block of Kosciuszko National Park, the results of which, while not regarded or claimed to be a definitive number, does support the unpublished number ranges." Mr Lanyon is very critical of the Plan of Management adopted for the control of brumby numbers. "The Plan of Management that was adopted by then Minister Matt Kean is not a plan of management - there is no commitment to any management strategies of any discipline whatsoever," he said. "The plan is purely and simply a plan for the removal or shooting of the snowy brumbies, identifying an aspirational population target of 3000 brumbies. "It is imperative that any removals be halted and Ms Sharpe convenes a fair dinkum consultative mechanism with the pro-brumby movement. "It is accepted by recreational horse-riders that ride in Kosciuszko National Park that once Labor has finished off Kean's project of removing all snowy brumbies by what-ever means, then recreational riders will be in the spotlight again." Invasive Species Council advocacy manager Jack Gough said irrespective of the exact numbers, the brumby population in KNP is causing significant damage. "We know the brumbies are a key threatening process to species in the park," he said. "They are roaming on a landscape not used to hard hoofed animals. The brumbies are damaging ground, mosses and other plants, and are eroding and polluting streams. "They cause significantly more damage than a deer because of their size. They are turning areas where cattle have been removed to let the ground regenerate back into horse paddocks." Mr Gough said important work was being done to reduce feral pig and feral deer numbers as well. "Less pigs and deers means less damage," he said. "NPWS is currently conducting the biggest aerial culling of pigs and deers in the park's history."