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: the Snowy Mountains.

The wild horse population is valued by many Australians for their heritage links to high country pastoralism and the wild and remote alpine and sub-alpine landscapes.

Based on 2019 population estimates there are 19,000 wild horses across the park. There is strong scientific evidence that they are damaging the park's fragile alpine and sub-alpine environment. If the population is not carefully managed, we risk unacceptable impacts to the environment and cultural values of the park.

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.

Wild horse galloping across brown-coloured grass on Cooleman Plain, Kosciuszko National Park.

This 5-yearly survey is an initiative of the Australian Alps National Parks Cooperative Management Program, and involves National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), ACT Parks and Conservation Service and Parks Victoria. Surveys have been undertaken in 2001, 2003, 2009, 2014 and 2019. The aim of the survey is to produce an estimate of the wild horse population in the surveyed areas and changes in the population since the last survey. The survey is critical to the ongoing management of wild horses by parks agencies.

More information and the latest survey results are available on the Australian Alps National Parks website.

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.

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

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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.

In accordance with the Act, a wild horse heritage plan of management will be finalised in 2020.

The summer 2019-20 bushfires have impacted a third of Kosciuszko National Park. The new wild horse heritage management plan will take those impacts into account in determining the long-term approach to sustainable wild horse management across the park. A community advisory panel and a scientific advisory panel will provide input to the plan, and community comment will be sought on the draft plan during a public exhibition period.

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