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 impact on the park's fragile environment.
A wild horse heritage management plan was adopted by the Minister for Energy and Environment on 24 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 3000 horses in 32% of the park. Wild horses have been retained in areas that are strongly associated with wild horse heritage values.
- Maintains the environmental values of the park by reducing the wild horse population from an estimated 14,380 horses to 3000 horses by 30 June 2027. Under the plan, there will be no wild horses across 68% of the park.
The removal of wild horses will occur in accordance with best practice animal welfare requirements.
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 a spring 2022 population survey, it is estimated there are just over 18,800 wild horses across the park. There is strong scientific evidence that wild horses damage the park's fragile alpine and sub-alpine environment. Impacts include trampling fragile sub-alpine ecosystems, 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.