Kosciuszko National Park wild horse management

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.

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 2020 population survey, it is estimated there are just over 14,000 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.

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

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, some people have expressed views and opinions on wild horses to Department staff in ways that are not respectful, productive or in line with acceptable community standards. We take a zero-tolerance approach to any interactions, correspondence, or phone calls that are considered harassing or threatening.

Send comments, queries or requests for information about wild horse management to npws.wildhorses@environment.nsw.gov.au and we will respond as soon as possible. We look forward to hearing from you.

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 is being prepared to guide the future management of wild horses in Kosciuszko National Park. The plan is being developed with community and scientific input and taking into account the results of the spring 2020 population survey and the impact of the summer 2019-20 bushfires which affected a third of Kosciuszko National Park. A draft plan will be released in the first quarter of 2021 for public comment.

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

The Minister for Energy and Environment has appointed members to the Kosciuszko National Park Wild Horse Community Advisory Panel and Wild Horse Scientific Advisory Panel. The panels are playing an important role in advising on a draft wild horse heritage management plan 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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