A new poll of Eden-Monaro voters released today has found that most people want feral horses removed from Kosciuszko National Park, where horse numbers have tripled in the past five years.

Ahead of the July 4 by-election, an independent poll asked 643 Eden-Monaro voters what should be done about feral horses, which are devastating Kosciuszko National Park’s unique plants and animals and destroying its once pristine waterways.

  • A total of 51 per cent of people polled said they favour a reduction in horse numbers – with 31 per cent saying they want numbers significantly reduced and 20 per cent saying they should be removed altogether.
  • A further 29 per cent said horses should be managed so current numbers do not increase.
  • So all in all, 80 per cent of people believe action is required to manage horses.
  • A minority of just 13 per cent of people support leaving the horses alone.
  • Just 7 per cent replied, “don’t know”. This is an extremely low number, which shows that Eden-Monaro locals understand the damage huge mobs of feral horses are causing.

“Feral horse numbers have tripled in the park to more than 20,000 in the past five years and most of them survived the bushfires,” Reclaim Kosci spokesperson Andrew Cox said today.

“These very large numbers of feral horses are trampling creek beds and picking the scarce green vegetation that native wildlife so desperately need to survive.

“If horse numbers keep increasing or even remain at current levels, Kosciuszko will never be the same. This would be as tragic as losing the Great Barrier Reef.

“The majority of the Eden-Monaro electorate understands that feral horse removal is urgently needed. All candidates in the by-election need to take these views seriously.

“The people of Eden-Monaro have spoken. They want a park, not a paddock.”

Feral horse numbers exploded in Kosciuszko National Park in 2018 when NSW deputy premier and member for the NSW state seat of Monaro John Barilaro pushed through the Wild Horse Heritage Act.

Almost no horses have been removed from the park since the law came into being.

“Thanks to this legislation, we now have a major environmental disaster unfolding in an iconic national treasure and it requires federal government intervention. The next member for Eden-Monaro has to take this issue on with the utmost urgency,” Mr Cox said.

Rod Campbell, Research Director at The Australia Institute, said these results show strong support for management of national parks based on scientific advice.

“With climate change already posing a huge challenge for the high country, we really can’t allow introduced species to put further pressure on the region’s landscapes and waterways.”

About the poll

Commissioned by the Invasive Species Council and The Australia Institute, uComms conducted a phone survey of 643 residents in the NSW federal electorate of Eden-Monaro on the night of 15th June 2020.

The question asked was:

“Feral horses, also called brumbies, are an introduced animal found in Kosciuszko National Park. Their numbers have more than doubled over the last five years and are causing damage to the national park’s alpine waterways and native plants and animals.

The NSW Government is developing a plan to manage the horses in the national park, including by culling. Which policy for the management of horses do you prefer?”

Response% of total
There should be no management and horse numbers allowed to increase, regardless of the impacts.12.6%
Horses should be managed to keep them around their current numbers.29.3%
Horses should be managed to significantly reduce their numbers.31.3%
All horses should be removed. The national park is for native wildlife.19.8%
Don’t know / Not sure.7.0%

Note: This survey was conducted using an automated telephone based survey system among 643 voters. Telephone numbers and the person within the household were selected at random. The results have been weighted by gender and age to reflect the population according to ABS figures. Please note that due to rounding, not all tables necessarily total 100% and subtotals may also vary. Copyright uCommunications Pty Ltd.