Wild horses

Wild horses in national parks can threaten the environment, biodiversity and public safety. Managing wild horse populations must balance park conservation values with the humane treatment of these animals.

What are wild horses?

Brumbies in Kosciuszko National Park

Wild horses are free-roaming horses descended from domestic livestock. Wild horses occur across many areas throughout Australia and can vary greatly in genetics, size, shape, and origin. Collectively, wild horses are also referred to as feral horses and brumbies.

Why are horses considered a pest?

Wild horses are considered to be a pest animal because of the damage they cause to the environment. Wild horses can:

  • increase soil erosion – by killing vegetation, disturbing the soil and creating paths along frequently used routes
  • destroy native plants – by grazing and trampling
  • foul waterholes
  • cause the collapse of wildlife burrows
  • compete with native animals for food and shelter
  • compete with livestock for pastures – particularly during periods of drought
  • spread weeds – through their dung and in their hair
  • spread disease
  • pose a risk to public safety – such as on high speed roads and highways.

Managing horses in our national parks

The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) manages wild horses in New South Wales national parks to protect threatened species, native plants, animals, landscapes, and to limit the impact on neighbouring properties. We recognise that there is a wide variety of views within the community regarding the management of horses within conservation areas.

NPWS, like other land managers, has a general biosecurity duty under the NSW Biosecurity Act 2015. With this in mind, management is prioritised through regional pest management strategies, the Saving our Species program, and specific horse management plans that are used in conjunction with each park’s plan of management.

National parks with horse management plans