Oxley Wild Rivers National Park feral horse management plan

Oxley Wild Rivers National Park (OWRNP), covering in excess of 142,000 hectares, protects an area of international and national significance for its biological and landscape values and of regional signifi cance for cultural heritage and recreation. The majority of the park is inscribed on the World Heritage List.

Two areas within OWRNP, totalling over 81,000 hectares, have been declared wilderness under the Wilderness Act 1987. Wilderness areas are large natural areas of land that, together with their native plant and animal communities, are essentially unchanged by human activity. These areas contribute to the long-term protection of biological diversity and serve as scientific reference areas.

Feral horses occur in the gorges of OWRNP and on some adjoining private properties, primarily along the river flats but also on adjacent gullies and ridges. The horses have been identified as posing a threat to the conservation values of the park, water quality and public safety as well as impacting on the agricultural enterprises of adjoining landholders.

The key objectives of the plan are to:

  • Conserve and protect the natural values of Oxley Wild Rivers National Park by removing all feral horses and ensuring that the park thereafter remains free from further feral horse impacts; and
  • Provide for the humane capture, handling and removal of feral horses from the park and identify options for the appropriate disposal of the feral horses once removed from the park.

The NPWS recognises that there is a wide range of views within the community regarding the management of feral horses within conservation areas. The plan includes details of the consultation process that was undertaken to ensure that the public had an opportunity to provide input into the management of the feral horses in OWRNP. Consultation with neighbours and special interest groups will continue, as will the input from the OWRNP Feral Horse Reference Committee.

This plan examines the range of horse management methods available and recommends a combination of control methods that meet the key objectives for the removal of feral horses from the Park. The preferred capture method initially is trapping in paddocks and/or yards, using feed-based lures and, where applicable, "coacher horses". Euthanasia using ground shooting, may be acceptable for some horses that cannot be captured or are not able to be safely removed from the park using other methods.

The feral horses will be handled using low stress stock handling techniques and will be transported from the park by 4WD truck. A range of options is provided for the humane disposal of captured horses.

Detailed protocols are included to ensure that the highest standards of animal welfare are maintained throughout the operation. This plan also sets out a method for evaluation and monitoring of the program.

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Page last updated: 30 January 2015