Kosciuszko National Park wild horse control

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

Control will occur in accordance with the Kosciuszko National Park Wild Horse Heritage Management Plan.

Outcomes of control programs will be made publicly available. However, to protect the safety of NPWS staff, contractors and visitors and the welfare of wild horses, operational details about wild horse control will not be publicly released.

The 2020–21 control program focussed on reducing wild horse negative impacts in 3 key areas that were affected during the 2019-2020 summer bushfires. The areas targeted during the control program were the Kiandra, Cooleman and Nungar Plains and surrounds.

Post-fire control program – outcomes (as at 1 October 2021)

  • Program dates: 23 July 2020 to 1 October 2021
  • Number of trapping days: 91
  • Horses removed: 787
  • Horses rehomed: 768
  • Horses sent to knackery: 14
  • Total trapping-related deaths: 5
    • 1 mare and 3 colts died in separate incidents while being held in the trap yards due to suspected head or neck injuries. 1 mare died in the NPWS temporary holding yards due to a suspected head injury. No other horses were injured. Horse deaths in trap yards are a very rare occurrence in the history of the trapping and removal program.
  • Horses released: 320

*Notes:

  • Horses were released if they did not meet NPWS current criteria for removal and included heavily pregnant mares and mares with young foals.

Kosciuszko National Park Wild Horse Management

Stakeholder Update, April 2021

  • 21 Apr 2021

Kosciuszko National Park Wild Horse Management

Stakeholder Update, February 2021.

  • 12 Feb 2021

Kosciuszko National Park Wild Horse Management

Stakeholder Update, October 2020: Post-bushfire control program

  • 08 Oct 2020

National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) completed a control program for wild horses in Kosciuszko National Park in spring 2019. The control program targeted the Blue Waterholes campground area, where there was a need to manage interactions between the public and wild horses to support safety objectives.

Control program outcomes

  • Program dates: 15 October to 15 November 2019
  • Number of trapping days: 16
  • Horses removed: 99 (67 stallions, 24 mares, 8 yearlings and 0 foals)
  • Horses rehomed: 68
  • Horses sent to knackery: 28
  • Total deaths: 3
    • Non-trapping related deaths: 2
      • 1 mare euthanised under veterinary and RSPCA advice due to poor condition (Body Condition Score 1)
      • 1 colt euthanised under veterinary advice due to poor body condition and infected leg wound
    • Trapping related deaths: 1
      • 1 stallion died while being held in the trap yards due to a suspected head injury. No other horses were injured. Horse deaths in trap yards are a very rare occurrence in the history of the trapping and removal program.
  • Horses released: 25

Frequently asked questions

Kosciusko National Park encompasses 673,542 hectares and is New South Wales' largest national park. The park contains outstanding natural and cultural features and is the source of the Snowy, Murray and Murrumbidgee rivers.

Extensive scientific research has occurred and continues to occur into the impact of introduced animals on the park, including pigs, deer and horses. While pigs and deer are known to cause impacts, scientific evidence indicates that wild horses also cause soil compaction and loss through erosion. They damage waterways and reduce water quality through riverbank collapse, compaction and channelling. Wild horses also reduce native vegetation coverage, contributing to loss of habitat for native species such as the broad-toothed rat, and placing further pressure on a range of threatened plants and animals. As such, 'Habitat degradation and loss by Feral Horses (brumbies, wild horses), Equus caballus' is a key threatening process listed in the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016. There are known to be at least 19,000 horses in the park (based on 2019 estimates).

All other introduced animals in the park, including pigs, foxes, deer, cats, rabbits and dogs, are being controlled by separate strategic and integrated pest control programs.

Wild horses are also a risk to public safety. Multiple vehicle collisions with wild horses have been recorded on the Snowy Mountains Highway. As a result, many horses have been killed and private vehicles damaged. Wild horses are also a risk to visitor safety in park campgrounds and may cause damage to private vehicles and camping equipment. This safety issue has been exacerbated by some campground visitors feeding horses, which further encourages horses into these areas.

Applications for horses can only be made to the Department for 5 horses or more.

  • If you would like to rehome 4 or fewer horses please contact the rehoming organisations or individuals who have recently collected horses from the park. As these horses may have received basic handling and training by the rehoming organisation or individual, they are often the best option for potential owners seeking to take only a small number of horses.
  • If you would like to rehome 5 or more horses, please refer to the rehoming guidelines and complete an application form. These horses are unhandled and untrained.

Read more about rehoming Kosciuszko wild horses.

No. The lures used to coax horses into trap yards are called 'baits' by some people. Lures used are food attractants such as salt, molasses and/or lucerne hay.

We use passive trapping where horses are attracted into trap sites with food lures. Panels are slowly erected around the lures, allowing the horses to become accustomed to them. Horses enter the yards of their own accord.

We do not set trap yards or transport wild horses during periods of extreme weather. Drinking water is provided in set trap yards. Wherever possible, trap yards are located in areas with natural shade.

The Act recognises the cultural heritage value of wild horses in the park but also allows for their management and control to protect the environmental values of the park. The Act requires a wild horse heritage management plan to be prepared for community consultation and adoption.

It is estimated that 25% of the area known to contain horses was impacted by fire. The intensity of the fire across this area varied from severe in the Selwyn/Kiandra area to low/variable in most of the impacted areas east of the Snowy Mountains Highway and in the south of the park (around Tin Mines).

Staff euthanised 8 horses in the most severely burnt areas due to injuries thought to have been sustained as a result of fire. A number of other horse deaths were observed in the Kiandra/Selwyn areas by staff on the ground and in the air during the fires. Affected horses were predominantly young. The number of horses killed or injured during the fires appears to have been low.

Given the good body condition of horses at the time of the fires and the extensive areas still available for grazing, there was low concern for the immediate welfare of horses in the park.

An effective reproductive control treatment approved for use on wild horses is not currently available in Australia. It may be a few more years before an effective product is licensed and produced in commercial quantities to enable wild horse reproductive control.

Science suggests that reproductive control is not an effective standalone population control method and is only effective once the population has been reduced to a target level by other means. It is more effective in smaller populations where horses can be identified and are accessible for continued administration of the treatment.