Kosciuszko’s feral horse population has grown from 1700 horses in 2005 to over 20,000 horse in 2019. Despite broad support from politicians, scientists, farmers, fishers, tourism operators, environmentalists and the general public, efforts to introduce management plans that effectively reduce feral horse numbers have been thwarted.
Follow the history of Kosci’s feral horse numbers, management plans, political action and scientific developments below.
- Kosciusko State Park created to protect its water catchments from hard hooved animals. It was upgraded to Kosciuszko National Park in 1967.
- 606 feral horses are shot from a helicopter in Guy Fawkes River National Park that were suffering from drought and recent bushfires.
- Aerial shooting of feral horses banned across NSW national parks; aerial shooting of pigs, deer, goats continues.
- Prof. Tony English, head of the University of Sydney veterinary faculty, reviews the aerial cull of feral horses in Guy Fawkes River National Park and concluded that the horses had been killed humanely.
- Kosciuszko Horse management plan implemented, trialling the use of trapping, roping and mustering.
- Estimated Kosciuszko feral horse population is 1700. A reduction from an estimate of 3000 in 2002 due to deaths from large bushfires in 2003.
- Wild horse management plan implemented, allowing trapping and rehoming or trapping and trucking to the abattoir.
- Estimated Kosicuszko feral horse population is 6150.
- The independent technical reference group supporting the development of the draft 2016 horse management plan assessed the the humaneness of wild horse management methods and deem aerial culling as one of the most humane control methods available.
- The draft Kosciuszko horse management plan was released for public comment. This proposed a reduction of horse numbers to 600 by 2036.
- Public consultation involved over 21,000 people through surveys, focus groups and submissions.
- Horse removal halted in 2016 in southern end of Kosciuszko and August 2017 in the northern end. Trapping and trucking to the abattoir removed as control option from 2017.
- John Barilaro introduces the Kosciuszko Wild Horse Heritage Bill to Parliament.
- The international conservation body, IUCN, condemned the bill.
- NSW Parliament passed the Kosciuszko Wild Horse Heritage Act
- Prof Dave Watson resigned from the NSW Threatened Species Scientific Committee in protest at the passing of the Act.
- ‘Habitat degradation and loss by feral horses’ listed as a key threatening process under the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Act by the NSW Scientific Committee.
- Kosciuszko Science Conference held, with over 90 scientists endorsing the Kosciuszko Science accord.
- After 36 days, five protesters arrived at Mt Kosciuszko after walking 560 km from Sydney, joined by about 600 people at different stages.
- Five-yearly aerial horse survey is conducted.
- Petition with 12,300 signatures tabled in NSW Parliament calling for repeal of the Kosciuszko Wild Horse Heritage Act.
- 16 months after the Kosciuszko Wild Hose Heritage Act made provision for two advisory committees, the NSW government announced the membership of the committees.
- Horse trapping restarted in a small area surrounding Blue Waterholes camping area due to visitor safety concerns. 99 horses re-homed or sent to abattoir.
- The results from the 2019 aerial horse survey is released. Estimated Kosciuszko feral horse population is 20,000.