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Protecting the Snowies

While the initial stage of consultation on developing a wild horse management plan for Kosciuszko National Park is now closed, the materials and conversation remain online for you to review. Extensive community and stakeholder engagement, advice from the Independent Technical Reference Group, assessment of the heritage and social significance of wild horses in the park, and review of past wild horse management programs all helped shape the draft plan which is currently on public exhibition until 19 August 2016. To have your say on the draft plan go to Kosciuszko National Park Draft Wild Horse Management Plan – public consultation.

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While the initial stage of consultation on developing a wild horse management plan for Kosciuszko National Park is now closed, the materials and conversation remain online for you to review. Extensive community and stakeholder engagement, advice from the Independent Technical Reference Group, assessment of the heritage and social significance of wild horses in the park, and review of past wild horse management programs all helped shape the draft plan which is currently on public exhibition until 19 August 2016. To have your say on the draft plan go to Kosciuszko National Park Draft Wild Horse Management Plan – public consultation.

Join the conversation
Share your story
Host a kitchen table discussion
Explore the history
Take the survey
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View videos from 21c Town Hall Meeting

CLOSED: This discussion has concluded.

  • Why is a review being conducted?

    over 3 years ago

    It is necessary and due. Horses are not native to Australia yet there are more wild horses in Australia than anywhere else on Earth. There is increasing evidence showing wild horses, also known as feral horses or ‘brumbies’, are causing significant damage to Kosciuszko National Park. This damage includes potentially irreversible impacts on native plants, animals and ecosystems, many of which are rare and endangered. Some of the impacted species are only found in Kosciuszko National Park.

    The current Kosciuszko National Park Wild Horse Management Plan only allows the use of passive population control methods, such as luring horses into trap yards with salt or molasses. Passive methods are time-consuming, expensive, actually cause some environmental damage, and have not been able to keep up with wild horse population growth. There are also growing animal welfare concerns with trapping and removal as it is distressing for the wild horses and rehoming is not always an option.

    In order for the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) to meet its obligation to protect and conserve the native flora, fauna and ecosystems of Kosciuszko National Park, it is undertaking a review of the Kosciuszko National Park Wild Horse Management Plan 2008 . Although it is still being implemented, the current plan was always intended to be reviewed after five years.

  • How will the review impact my use of the park?

    over 3 years ago

    It won’t. NPWS encourages people to continue visiting Kosciuszko National Park and enjoying its unique environment.


  • Am I able to provide input into the review?

    over 3 years ago

    Yes. Everyone is invited to participate in the public discussion and share their views on Kosciuszko National Park and the management of wild horses within the park.

    You can participate here by:

    1. Registering on the electronic mailing list
    2. Registering to participate in engagement activities, such as the 21stCentury Town Hall meeting and the Kitchen Table discussions
    3. Joining the conversation and sharing stories online about your personal experiences in the Snowy Mountains.

    Once the review has been completed, a revised draft Kosciuszko Wild Horse Management Plan will be exhibited and public submissions will be sought. These submissions will be reviewed and incorporated where appropriate into the next Wild Horse Management Plan for Kosciuszko National Park.

  • Who will be conducting the review?

    over 3 years ago

    NPWS is conducting the review. An Independent Technical Reference Group will review the scientific evidence, research and technical information that is currently available. This group will make recommendations to NPWS about the most efficient, effective and humane ways to manage wild horses in Kosciuszko National Park. A range of community engagement activities will help capture the wide range of views people hold about wild horse management. These activities are being designed and managed by external community engagement experts.

  • Who can I contact if I have questions about the review?

    over 3 years ago

    The project website, at www.environment.nsw.gov.au/protectsnowies, provides a range of background information and relevant reference material about this project. The page also links to an online consultation forum through which you can ask questions and provide your ideas, thoughts and opinions.

    You are also invited to email Protect.Snowies@environment.nsw.gov.au to register your interest in consultation activities. If you do not use email or the internet, please register your interest via the NPWS Contact Centre on 1300 361 967.


  • Are more reviews planned?

    over 3 years ago

    Yes. NPWS uses management plans to meet a broad range of responsibilities and these are periodically reviewed. The current Wild Horse Management Plan for Kosciuszko National Park was adopted in 2008 with the intention of a review five years later. This next version of the plan will be the third one so far, and a review will most likely begin five years after it is adopted to evaluate its effectiveness and consider future advances in wild horse management.

  • How will community views influence the review process?

    over 3 years ago

    Through consultation. It is important for NPWS to strike the right balance between the scientific evidence, its statutory requirements to protect Kosciuszko National Park, and community expectations. A range of community engagement activities are being undertaken to capture community views and provide factual information about wild horse management within Kosciuszko National Park. These include:

    • meeting with a number of different stakeholder and special interest groups
    • conducting focus groups with community members
    • undertaking a random survey of community views
    • inviting community members to share stories online about their personal experiences in the Snowy Mountains
    • running a 21st Century Town Hall meeting (a large group meeting in which issues are discussed and views captured and reported electronically throughout the meeting)
    • facilitating Kitchen Table discussions (where interested community members hold structured discussions with their family and friends, and then provide the collective feedback from that group of people).

    For more details, or to register your interest in getting regular updates about the project or being involved in activities, visit the project website www.environment.nsw.gov.au/protectsnowies.

  • What is this review considering?

    over 3 years ago

    The review of the Kosciuszko National Park Wild Horse Management Plan 2008 will consider all of the scientific evidence about wild horse impacts on the native animals, plants and ecosystems within the park and make recommendations about the best way to limit those impacts in the future.

    The review will identify effective and humane population control measures for wild horses and make recommendations for future wild horse control actions. It will also consider community expectations regarding horse control in Kosciuszko National Park.


  • Has the NPWS already made a decision on how to control wild horses?

    over 3 years ago

    No. While NPWS has a legislative obligation to protect and conserve native animals, plants and ecosystems, it has not made any decisions about the future control of wild horses in Kosciuszko National Park. Although horses are an introduced species, NPWS recognises that for many people, wild horses are an iconic part of Australia’s national heritage, and also an important part of their own family history. For many others, the value of the Snowies is found in its unique Australian landscape and its native plants and animals. NPWS also acknowledges that wild horses have value in terms of tourism.


  • How many wild horses are in the park now and what number would NPWS prefer?

    over 3 years ago

    NPWS has not established a wild horse population goal. Rather, its goal is to minimise the impact horses are having on fragile ecosystems.

    The 2009 aerial survey of the Australian Alps estimated the number of wild horses across NSW, Victoria and the ACT as 7679. This number was reached through statistical analysis with a coefficient of error of 25%, so the actual number of wild horses in 2009 was estimated between 5759 and 9599. The wild horse population grows between 8-22% each year if left unchecked. Results of the 2014 wild horse survey are still being analysed and are not yet known.


  • Is public opinion really looked at or is it just a way for Environment and Heritage to make it look as if they are doing the right thing by inviting the public to speak out about their views .

    pepper asked over 3 years ago

    This consultation is a genuine effort to understand community views on this complex issue as well as seek input from scientists and animal welfare experts.

    Everyone is invited to participate in the public discussion and share their views on Kosciuszko National Park and the management of wild horses within the park.

    Once the Wild Horse Management Plan Review has been completed with this initial public and scientific input, a revised draft Kosciuszko Wild Horse Management Plan will be exhibited and further public submissions will be sought. These submissions will be reviewed and incorporated where appropriate into the next Wild Horse Management Plan for Kosciuszko National Park.

  • "When will the results of the 2014 wild horse survey analysis be made public so that members of the public can have adequate time to consider them and make timely comment?"

    Wombat asked over 3 years ago

    The 2014 aerial survey is currently being finalised and will be released as soon as possible.

    The 2014 aerial survey of wild horse populations in the Australian Alps is one of several indicators that will help experts and the public determine the impact of wild horses on Kosciuszko National Park. It relates to the 2009 aerial survey results which can be viewed on this site.

    The 2014 aerial survey results will inform the review of the Wild Horse Management Plan and the opportunity to consider and comment on these results, along with several other indicators, will occur in this initial period from now until the end of November through this site and then next year when the new draft Wild Horse Management Plan is on public exhibition and open for comment.

  • Scientists or RSPCA do not neccessarily have the 'expertise' on the 'how to' catch wild horses nor do the rehoming people as admirable a job that they all do. Should NPWS not also invite the experienced mountain horsemen and women who have the fundamental expertise that is essentially required? They would be the only people in Australia with this very unique experience..

    Heritage asked over 3 years ago

    NPWS works with a wide range of animal welfare experts including the RSPCA, veterinarians and the Department of Primary Industry (DPI).

    NPWS is also governed by legislation and codes of practice with regard to animal welfare issues.

    During the last review of the Wild Horse Management Plan in 2008, NPWS worked with a wide range of people with expertise in animal welfare as well as experienced mountain horsemen and women through the community consultation to develop the best approach to the removal and rehoming of wild horses.

    Through the implementation of the plan from 2009 to now, NPWS has worked with local staff and local people, some employed as contractors with experience in horse and stock management as part of the removal and rehoming program. The 2014 review of the Wild Horse Management Plan represents another opportunity for scientific and technical experts as well as local experienced horsemen and women to have input into the future management practices.

  • What method is being used to differentiate between damage supposedly caused by the brumbies and other animals such as pigs, kangaroos, wombats or any other park inhabitant or user?

    Donna asked over 3 years ago

    The foot marking hoof prints of introduced animals including horses, deer, goats and pigs are individually distinct from the soft foot markings of native species. The visual evidence of significant horse hoof marks particularly on riverbeds and delicate bogs, along with the piles of nearby horse dropping dung indicate the introduced species prevalence and impact on particular areas of the National Park. Remote surveillance monitoring cameras are also used to verify species presence and abundance in these areas where impacts are occurring.

  • What if any role do NPWS play in promoting the success of brumbies re-homed via rescue groups or individuals in order to potentially increase the number being homed & decrease the number going to slaughter?

    Donna asked over 3 years ago

    NPWS supports any efforts to promote the rehoming of wild horses where possible. NPWS have advertised and promoted in local papers, media and at local events such as the Snowy Mountains Muster, seeking people to register their interest to receive larger numbers of horses from the removal program and to become a distribution point for rehoming. NPWS also promotes and provides information on how people can obtain an individual or small number of horses through these rehoming groups. Wild horses are distributed by a number of these third party individuals or groups that are appropriately set up and can deal with the number of horses from the removal program. We work closely with many rehoming groups who have helped us with the best ways to handle and remove horses so that these animals have the best chance at domestication. Unfortunately only about 30-40% of horses are currently re-homed each season due to lack of public demand for these horses, with the remainder having to be transported to abattoir. NPWS continues to support the wild horse removal and rehoming efforts.


  • I grew up in the Northern KNP; I knew it before it was a National Park. All of it was grazed by tens of thousands of hard hoofed sheep and cattle. I have my memories and photos to back up those memories of pristine plains and hills and streams, no degradation and an abundance of fish and other wild life through out the high country. Managed by people and fire at the appropriate time each season. What I see now is a devastation caused by mismanagement and mis- information. So many other countries manage their National Parks common sense and empathy to the landscape. The brumby problem is miniscule to the real problems with our Park.

    Ted Taylor asked over 3 years ago

    Thanks for taking the time to let us know your views. Your observations will be considered with all others as part of this process. Thank you again.

  • Has an INDEPENDENT study of wild horse numbers ever been done? By independent I mean non-government funded or sponsored (as uni studies typically are). If one was done would you heed the information contained within it?

    Wild Horse Tours asked over 3 years ago

    Thank you Wild Horse Tours your question. All research that helps to credibly and scientifically quantify the population and impacts is welcomed for consideration as part of the review.

  • How much does it cost to remove/kill horses (cost per horse) using aerial shooting, and using the current method of trapping and trucking?

    Trampled asked over 3 years ago

    Thank you Trampled for your question. It costs on average $1074 per wild horse to remove them from the National Park and since 2002 only 2600 wild horses have been removed at a cost of over $2.8 million. These costs include planning, engagement with the community, and purchase of equipment like vehicles and yards as well as ongoing operation costs. This passive removal of wild horses from the National Park is the only management method undertaken by NSW NPWS as aerial culling has not be used since 2000.

  • What proportion of the horse-infested parts of Kosciusko National Park is amenable to trapping and trucking, compared with the proportion that could be tackled using aerial shooting? What would be the relative costs of applying these methods across their maximum possible extent?

    Trampled asked over 3 years ago

    The application and success of passive removal is limited by the geography.

    Kosciuszko National Park has terrain and environmentally sensitive areas that limit access for the vehicles, trucks and trailers required to undertake passive removal of wild horses.Passive removal can then only target populations surrounding accessible removal site not necessarily the wild horse population as distributed across a geographic area. Since 2002 NSW NPWS have only removed 2600 wild horses in this way.

  • What is meant by the term 'Pilot Wilderness Area'?

    Donna asked over 3 years ago

    The Pilot Wilderness Area is 80,479 hectares of Kosciuszko National Park declared as a wilderness area under the NSW Wilderness Act, 1987. Geographically, it is essentially the section of park south of the Thredbo Valley, wet of the Barry Way, east of the Murray (indi) River and north of the Victorian/NSW border.

    Wilderness areas represent the most intact and undisturbed expanses of our remaining natural landscapes. You can refer to Section 5.2 Wilderness Zone on page.28 of Kosciuszko National Park Plan of Management (2006).

  • I understand there are areas free of wild horses, can you tell me what percentage of the Koscuizko National Park in NSW is free of wild Horses.

    Bio-Brumby asked over 3 years ago

    Wild horses occupy at least 300,000 ha of the 690,000 ha of the Kosciuszko National Park or about 43 per cent. The only part of the Kosciuszko National Park that is largely wild horse free is the section of the park between the Snowy Mountains Highway and the Alpine Way except for the Snowy Plain area on the eastern edge of the Jagungal Wilderness Area. It is important to consider that they also range over 38,000 ha of the Bago and Maragle State Forests and 330,000 ha of Victoria Alpine and Snowy River National Parks that adjoin Kosciuszko National Park.

  • Why is it not acknowledged publicly in this forum that the brumbies have existed in the mountains for over 120 years prior to being declared a National Park and then for another 50 years since? These areas were still pristine enough to be declared the even more important status of 'wilderness' after over a century of brumbies so they must not cause damage. Why are the brumbies only deemed to be a problem in recent years? Is this from mismanagement? Does this fact mean that whatever management of the horses worked for the past 170 years should be tried again?

    Mountain Man asked over 3 years ago

    The Kosciuszko National Park Horse Management Plan 2008 is listed on the site within the Key Documents section. Page 6, Section 3.2 of the Management Plan provides a detailed Historical Overview of Horses in the Snowy Mountains.

    The Australian Alps Feral Horse Management Factsheet is also included as a Key Document. This Factsheet provides a brief history of the horses and references their population growth, impact, management controls and implications since their introduction. The Factsheet also provides links to external sources which we encourage you to visit.

  • Is NPWS in breach of state, federal and international (ICUN) environmental obligations if they fail to remove/limit impact of feral horses on natural heritage in KNP?

    youngconservationist asked over 3 years ago

    The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NSW NPWS) has a legal responsibility to protect native habitats, native fauna and flora and geological features within its reserves. This includes the minimisation of impacts of introduced species, including wild horses, on park values. This legal responsibility is derived from State, Federal and international legislation and agreements such as the National Parks and Wildlife Act, 1974 (NSW), Threatened Species Conservation Act, 1995 (NSW) and Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, 1999 (Commonwealth). UNESCO ‘Man in the Biosphere’ and Ramsar listings, for example, must also be taken into consideration.

    Broad engagement on the review of the Wild Horse Management Plan will help NPWS determine the best way to manage the horses in the park, taking into account our obligations as well as balancing the competing issues of impact, mountain heritage and the emotional connection many have with the horses. As this discussion forum has been showing, there are no black/white or right/wrong answers to these issues and NPWS will need to work with all stakeholders, the Technical Reference Group and the outcomes of community engagement to identify an appropriate management strategy.

  • Do you have any idea how many horses there were before the official counts started?

    peter_mcc asked about 3 years ago

    NPWS advises it is hard to estimate how many horses were in the area of the park prior to the first Australian Alps wide aerial survey conducted in 2001. Prior to this it was purely anecdotal evidence and observational records that informed horse distribution and abundance. Refer to sections 3.2 (pgs 6-7) – Historical Overview of Horses in the Snowy Mountains and sections 3.5 Horse Population and Distribution (pgs 13-14) of the current KNP Wild Horse Management Plan. Studies by Dyring (1990) mapped wild horse distribution and Walter (2002) collected local oral histories as to horse distribution and densities throughout the Australian Alps. For example, Dyring (1990) notes the first record of horses being released in the Australian Alps was by Davey O’Rourke in 1843. He released 70 mares and 2 stallions at Black Mountain in Victoria.

  • Over how many months is passive trapping conducted each year?

    Donna asked about 3 years ago

    NPWS advises that within KNP trapping and removal is carried out between February – May inclusive in Southern KNP and June –September inclusive in Northern KNP. This is limited and influenced by such factors as: ability to gain vehicular access to trapping areas with snow cover; wet trails; avoiding foaling season; interest of horses in salt and molasses used as lure in different seasons; intentional interference and vandalism of trap yards; dispersal of horses when public vehicular access to areas is available; and high visitation periods.

  • Why is it that horses are not being effectively controlled when other domesticated animals that have gone feral, such as dogs, cats, rabbits, pigs etc. have culling programs? Why is trapping, trucking and for most of the horses ending up at a slaughterhouse not condemned as cruel and unusual treatment when compared to aerial culling by professional shooters? If native animals that are endemic to the area were causing the degradation and damage that horses do wouldn't they be culled by the most effective and humane method available?

    Tony Hill asked about 3 years ago

    Thank you Tony. This is a series of questions which forms a statement that may be better submitted to a relevant forum for discussion than here in the Q&A section.

  • In your response to Donna's question about the 'Pilot Wilderness Area', you state: "Wilderness areas represent the most intact and undisturbed expanses of our remaining natural landscapes." Are you suggesting that Australia used to be "naturally" empty, and not much empty space is left? You seem to be forgetting that the continent was occupied and managed by Aboriginal people for 60,000 years. What do the terms "intact" and "undisturbed" mean in the context of relatively recent Aboriginal dispossession? Was not the removal of Aboriginal management and ecological interaction a massive disturbance to this area?

    Ben Gleeson asked about 3 years ago

    Thank you Ben. This is the definition of 'wilderness area' as provided by NPWS. We acknowledge the indigenous connection to the lands on which National Parks are founded.

  • It is interesting that views presented on video are from what seems to be a team playing for removal of the brumby side, not one scientific or voice of experienced brumby handlers over 50 years of age living with the horses review from the protect the brumby side. Any sniff of factual evidence that runs against the agenda to genocide the Brumby is dismissed or shut down and most evident throughout this exercise in public manipulation. The facade of fair play here is not working other than to show the loaded dice with a well rehearsed voice of compassion with their hands on the guillotine rope. If the same chance of an outcome was available for next years Melbourne Cup I would be on a winner. RIP our heritage horse "The Brumby"

    harrypalmer asked about 3 years ago

    Thank you for the statement. Several invitations in the lead up to and over the course of this consultation have been put forward to people to share their views and not all invitations have been taken up. Where possible the site has profiled the rehoming efforts as well as videos featured in The Guardian Article.

  • I felt your survey was very lacking for a supposedly professional organization. There was no allowance for comments outside your questions, which allows your survey to steer in a preplanned direction

    Fred1 asked about 3 years ago

    Thank you for your feedback. There are a number of opportunities open to people to offer further comment. Through a forum on this site, via the Kitchen Table Discussion Guides or by sending an email directly.