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.

Kosciuszko National Park

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.

The NSW Government has passed legislation that recognises and protects the wild horse heritage values in Kosciuszko National Park, while enabling active management to reduce their impact on its fragile alpine environment.

A wild horse heritage plan of management will be developed to identify the wild horses' heritage values, specify how they will be managed, and identify zones where sustainable populations will be retained. The plan will also identify how populations outside these zones will be controlled. A community advisory panel and an independent technical advisory group will provide input to the plan, and community comment will be sought on the specific actions proposed in the plan.

While acknowledging that wild horses represent a link to our pioneering and pastoral heritage, there is clear evidence that the current wild horse population is damaging the park's fragile alpine and sub-alpine environment. If the population is not carefully managed we risk unacceptable impacts to the environmental values of the park.

Finding a balance between protecting the heritage values of the wild horses and the other environmental values of the park is challenging but not impossible.

More updates on the legislation, community engagement and future management of the wild horse population will be provided when available.

Background information

Information on wild horse management research, engagement and planning undertaken to date is available. This work will inform development of the new wild horse heritage management plan.

Page last updated: 25 June 2018