Analysis of the bushfires that hit Kosciuszko National Park during Australia’s black summer of 2019-21 suggests that a majority of the park home to high numbers of feral horses were unburnt.
Commissioned by the Invasive Species Council, a leading member of the Reclaim Kosci campaign, the analysis determined the likelihood of a reduction of growing feral horse numbers in the park due to the fires.
It found most areas that burned did not suffer from severe intense fires. Some smaller areas with horses did suffer intense fires. Horses would have had the opportunity to escape the fires.
At the time of the report the latest reliable population estimate of the number of horses in Kosciuszko National Park before the summer bushfires suggested a population of approximately 20,000 horses.
The report refutes unsubstantiated claims by horse advocates that many horses perished in the Kosciuszko fires and that there is now no need to remove them.
The bushfire impacts analysis concludes there is no evidence that large numbers of horses died in the fires.
“Witnesses who have frequently flown over the burnt areas of the park have found only individual horse carcasses in a handful of locations,” it says.
“This analysis shows that more than two-thirds of the area with horses escaped the fires and that about 16% of the area with high horse numbers burnt at high or extreme severity.
“Ground and aerial observations in the months after the fires revealed large numbers of horses in most if not all of these areas.
“This analysis confirms that the area subject to intense severity fires is relatively small and that the horse population in Kosciuszko National Park is likely to be little changed from the 2019 population estimate of the order of 20,000 horses.”
The report can be downloaded from the Invasive Species Council website.