Managing wild horse impacts in Kosciuszko National Park

The delicate alpine and sub-alpine ecosystems of Kosciuszko National Park face many threats, including pressures from introduced animals such as wild horses. Maintaining the balance between protecting the park and the heritage value of wild horses is a complex task.

Collapsed stream bank in Kosciuszko National Park showing damage caused by wild horses.

The NSW Government passed the Kosciuszko Wild Horse Heritage Act 2018, which recognises and protects wild horse heritage values in Kosciuszko National Park and enables active management of the wild horse population to reduce their negative impact on the park's fragile environment.

A wild horse heritage management plan was adopted by the Minister for Energy and Environment in November 2021. The plan has been prepared to meet the requirements of the Kosciuszko Wild Horse Heritage Act. The plan:

  • identifies the heritage value of wild horse populations in parts of the park
  • protects the heritage values of wild horses by retaining a wild horse population of 3,000 horses in 32% of the park; wild horses have been retained in areas that are associated with wild horse heritage values
  • maintains the environmental values of the park by reducing the wild horse population to 3,000 horses by 30 June 2027. Under the plan, there will be no wild horses across 68% of the park.

The plan was updated in October 2023 to include aerial shooting as an approved control method. The amendment allows National Parks and Wildlife Service to use aerial shooting in addition to existing control methods such as passive trapping, rehoming, and ground shooting to reach the legally required wild horse population target of 3,000 by mid-2027.

The removal of wild horses occurs in accordance with the highest possible animal welfare standards.

Kosciuszko National Park contains some of Australia's most beautiful and unique natural landscapes, plants and animals. This includes the main alpine and sub-alpine area in New South Wales, commonly known as the Snowy Mountains.

Based on the October 2023 population survey, it is estimated there are between 12,797 to 21,760 wild horses in the park. By law, National Parks and Wildlife Service must reduce the population to 3,000 wild horses by June 2027. There is strong scientific evidence that wild horses damage the park's fragile alpine and sub-alpine environment. Impacts include trampling and grazing vegetation, eroding waterways and destroying key habitat for threatened species such as the northern corroboree frog and stocky galaxias fish.

The negative environmental impact of wild horses has been formally recognised by the listing of habitat degradation and loss by feral horses as a Key Threatening Process in Schedule 4 of the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016. The impact of wild horses in the park has been well-documented in a number of scientific, peer-reviewed papers.

The Kosciuszko Wild Horse Community Advisory Panel is established under the Kosciuszko Wild Horse Heritage Act 2018.

More information

National Parks and Wildlife Service undertakes control programs for wild horses in Kosciuszko National Park.

More information

Kosciuszko wild horse management – register of interest

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Respectful engagement

Many individuals and groups across the community have strong, passionate views about the best ways to manage wild horses in Kosciuszko National Park.

Community input and informed and respectful debate is always welcome. Unfortunately, in the past, views and opinions on wild horse management have been expressed to National Parks and Wildlife Service staff in ways that are not respectful, productive or in line with acceptable community standards. A zero-tolerance approach will be taken to any interactions, correspondence, or phone calls that are considered harassing or threatening.

Comments, queries or requests for information about wild horse management should be directed to National Parks and Wildlife Service and a response will be provided as soon as possible. We look forward to hearing from you.