The Invasive Species Council has congratulated Premier-elect Chris Minns on Labor’s decisive victory in the NSW election, saying that Labor has now been given a clear mandate for urgent action to reduce the more than 18,000 feral horses in Kosciuszko National Park.
‘NSW Labor took a clear position in the election in support of rapidly reducing the number of feral horses trashing and trampling Kosciuszko National Park. The election result now gives them a mandate to implement this and also repeal Barilaro’s ridiculous law protecting feral horses over our native wildlife and alpine rivers,’ said Invasive Species Council advocacy manager Jack Gough.
‘We have seen big swings to parties and independents that have taken a strong stand on protecting Kosciuszko from the impacts of feral horses. This includes both the seat of Monaro and the seat of Wagga Wagga, which cover the eastern and western portions of the park respectively,’ said Mr Gough.
Wagga Wagga MP Dr Joe McGirr was very outspoken during the campaign about the need to reduce feral horse numbers and was returned to office with strong support from his community.
‘Australians are better-informed about the damage feral horses are doing to our wildlife and fragile alpine wetlands and streams. These alpine areas are not made to cope with thousands of heavy, hard-hoofed feral horses destroying sensitive environments,’ said Mr Gough.
‘Under the previous government we saw a 30% increase in feral horse numbers in the past two years to almost 19,000 despite a commitment to reduce them. To meet their election commitment, Labor will need to devote extra resources and re-examine the control measures available to National Parks staff under the current management plan.
‘We have a choice to make between a growing herd of feral horses or a thriving national park – we can’t have both. There is broad acceptance of the sad reality that urgent and humane measures are necessary to cull the horses or they will destroy the Snowies and the native wildlife that call the mountains home.
‘Labor has a clear mandate for action on feral horses and the support of key crossbenchers to urgently drive down numbers. The Invasive Species Council looks forward to working with new Environment Minister Penny Sharpe and new Labor member for Monaro Steve Whan to ensure Labor’s policy to save the national park is implemented swiftly and effectively,’ said Mr Gough.
Background notes for editors:
- The Invasive Species Council is an independent non-government organisation that advocates for stronger laws, policies and programs to keep Australian biodiversity safe from weeds, feral animals and other invaders.
- Feral horse numbers in Kosciuszko National Park increased 30% in the past two years to almost 19,000 despite a government commitment to reduce them to 3,000 by 2027. The numbers almost quadrupled during the Coalition term in office (2011-2023).
- Only 859 feral horses were removed from Kosciuszko National Park in 2022 – well below the annual population growth rate of 15-20%.
- The current management plan for feral horses permits National Parks staff to use a range of control measures, including ground shooting, but rules out the use of aerial shooting.
- A recent government review found that ‘aerial shooting can have low negative welfare outcomes (i.e. good welfare outcomes) when conducted in accordance with best practice’ and that ‘alternative techniques with good welfare outcomes (such as aerial shooting) may need to be considered if sufficient numbers are not removed with current techniques.’
- At least 11 native animal and 23 native plant species in Kosciuszko National Park are threatened with extinction due to feral horses, including the iconic corroboree frog, the broad toothed mouse and rare alpine orchids.