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 represents heritage links to high country pastoralism and the wild and remote alpine and sub-alpine landscapes. They are valued by many Australians.

Based on 2014 population estimates there are 6000 wild horses across the park. Scientific evidence suggests 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 environmental 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.

2019 aerial survey

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

This 5-yearly survey is part of the ongoing Australian Alps National Parks Cooperative Management Program, which involves NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and Parks Victoria. 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 2014 survey. The survey is critical to on-going management of wild horses by Parks agencies.

More information is available on the Australian Alps National Parks website.

Advisory panels

Applications for membership of the Kosciuszko National Park Wild Horse Community Advisory Panel and Wild Horse Scientific Advisory Panel are now closed. The panels will play an important role in advising on future management of wild horses in the park and development of a wild horse heritage management plan under the Kosciuszko Wild Horse Heritage Act 2018.

Applications will be assessed and appointments to the panels made by the Minister for Energy and Environment.

For further information email: npws.wildhorses@environment.nsw.gov.au

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 developed to:

  • identify wild horses’ heritage values
  • specify how wild horses will be managed
  • identify zones where sustainable populations will be retained
  • identify how populations outside these zones will be controlled.

A community advisory panel and a scientific advisory panel will provide input to the plan, and community comment will be sought on the specific actions proposed in the plan. More updates on the new legislation, community engagement and future management of the wild horse population will be provided when available.