Environmental issues

Pests and weeds

Feral/Wild horses

Scientists have found that feral/wild horses can damage native environments in various ways:

  • increasing soil erosion, by killing vegetation, disturbing the soil and creating paths along frequently used routes
  • destroying native plants, by grazing and trampling
  • fouling waterholes
  • collapsing wildlife burrows
  • competing with native animals for food and shelter
  • spreading weeds, through their dung and hair.

Feral/wild horses can also pose a biosecurity risk for spread of disease, as well as pose visitor and public safety risks such as on high speed roads and highways.

Guy Fawkes River National Park

Guy Fawkes River National Park Horse Management Plan
Approved July 2006.

Guy Fawkes River National Park - wild horses heritage study
Following a horse culling operation in Guy Fawkes River National Park in October 2000, a working party was formed to study the heritage value of wild horses in the park. Download the working party's final report on this difficult issue.

Kosciuszko National Park

In the review of the Kosciuszko National Park Draft Wild Horse Management Plan, National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) refers to the horses as 'wild horses' in an effort to maintain balance between environmental and horse advocacy stakeholder groups that regard the terms 'brumby' or 'feral' as either romanticising or being derogatory, depending on the view point. Use of such terms by NPWS, it is argued by stakeholders, could cloud or influence community opinion. This in itself is an indicator of the level of controversy, debate and emotion that is associated with this management issue.

The issue of wild horse management in Kosciuszko National Park is often highly contentious and emotive. There is a diverse range of views in the general community and deeply polarised views between stakeholder groups about if and how wild horses in the park should be managed.

For some visitors, seeing introduced animals such as horses detracts from their visit to the park. For other visitors, such encounters may add to the richness of their experiences in the park.

National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) has a legal duty to protect native habitats, fauna and flora, geological features and historic and cultural features and values within the park. While NPWS recognises and acknowledges the community and heritage values associated with the wild horse population in the park, it has a responsibility to minimise the impacts of introduced species, including those of wild horses.

The acknowledgement of the Kosciuszko National Park wild horse population as an 'attribute' associated with nationally significant cultural and social values is unique to the Kosciuszko National Park and cannot be applied to other wild horse populations in the NSW park system.

Kosciuszko National Park Horse Management Plan
Adopted December 2008

Oxley Wild Rivers National Park

Page last updated: 01 May 2016