Aerial shooting of wild horses to be conducted in Kosciuszko National Park

Published: November 3, 2023

The culling of animals in national parks can be an emotive issue, and never more so than when it comes to wild horses.

The NSW Government has recently adopted an amendment to the Kosciuszko National Park Wild Horse Heritage Management Plan which authorises aerial shooting as an additional control method to reduce the number of wild horses in the park.

It says the change is essential to protecting the park’s threatened native wildlife and ecosystems.

The Senate Environment and Communications References Committee Report found effective control of wild horses could be the difference between survival and extinction for up to a dozen threatened species found only in the Australian Alps.

The amendment allows the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service to use aerial shooting in addition to existing control methods – such as ground shooting, and trapping and rehoming – to reach the legally-required wild horse population target of 3,000 by mid-2027.

The November 2022 survey of wild horses in Kosciuszko National Park showed an estimated population of 18,814.

Minister for the Environment Penny Sharpe said there were simply too many wild horses in Kosciuszko National Park, and action had to be taken.

“This was not an easy decision,” she said. “No one wants to have to kill wild horses.”

However, Ms Sharpe said she had carefully considered all the options, and the step was needed to help save endangered and vulnerable species and their habitat, protect soil and waterways and conserve cultural heritage.

“Aerial shooting, when carried out by highly trained personnel in accordance with rigorous standards, delivers the best possible animal welfare outcomes,” she said. “I know this decision will upset some members of the community … I empathise with those who feel distressed that we must undertake control programs.”

The proposal to amend the plan was put on exhibition for community input and attracted 11,002 submissions. Advice from the Wild Horse Community Advisory Panel and National Parks and Wildlife Advisory Council was also considered.

Of the submissions which commented on aerial shooting, 82% expressed support for the control method being included in the plan.

The Government says NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service staff are highly trained and undergo rigorous testing to be approved to carry out aerial shooting on a range of invasive species, including deer and pigs.

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How did they get a figure of 18,000 plus ?

1, 2, 3, 4,……….

Computer guesstimates. The truth is it is a reach to find 2000 to 3000. The whole thing is a big lie and it’s become a battle with the idiot environmentists just so they can win. The poor brumbies are being sacrificed in their effort to get their way. The horses have been there for 200 years and all flora and fauna have co-existed with the brumbies way before the area ever became a national park. Now they’re saying the brumbies are destroying it. She got elected because she said there will never be any aerial shooting. 2 baby foals were found on their own with no mum and were in a bad way. Obviously the mothers were shot.The foals were rescued but both died within 2 days. This is abhorent slaughter, shot and left to bleed out for days. Heart-breaking and distressing for horse lovers. This aerial shooting is far more expensive than other means but obviously the quickest way of eliminating them.

Never any mention of the results after cattle grazing on the Snow Mountains high country was banned, and obviously Brumbies contribute to maintenance of that land. Early white settlers discovered the grasslands ideal for cattle grazing that had been maintained by seasonal burning by Aborigine tribes, and the cattle people copied them by burning as they left grasslands at the end of each season. People will argue that Aboriginal burning was all about hunting but for at least several thousand years it was about controlling the growth, encouraging grasses to attract wildlife and to make access easier for people and safer.

Season burning means when the weather conditions are suitable, temperature, prevailing winds, etc. And to burn every few years in patches so that a new burn goes out when it reaches a previously burnt patch. And by keeping fuel low the bushfires are cooler and enable wildlife to escape, and does not kill trees.

Over the past decade or so most of the grazing grasslands are overgrown, including blackberry bushes taking over. The bushfire potential is for very destructive wild fires.

The seasonal burning of grasslands was done here in America by our Native people also. Once our Country became civilized, as we say, our Native people were put on reservations and the management of the land stopped.

That’s what is wrong with the Parks environment. There’s not proper management!

The governments of Western Australia and Northern Territory have introduced season burning utilising the knowledge and labour of Aboriginal Rangers working with other Rangers and using modern equipment like helicopters and boats equipped with launchers for fire lighting projectiles. The results in the Kimberley Region WA North and Kakadu National Park and environs has been spectacularly successful.

And yes, lack of land management is a major problem here in Australia in many areas. And caused by a lack of authorities support. Former State Forests managed by forestry personnel were far less likely to be burnt out when constantly managed to reduce hazards, but as National Parks the management was lost and ridiculous save the trees and wildlife mentality has prevailed resulting in the opposite resulting in many National Parks.

I totally agree with your comment. This proposal should never be allowed to take place, it is a total disgrace,

The Numbers are inflated to suit the Governments Agenda.They say 18,000,the People who go there, know and also some live in the area know there is maybe 2,000 if they are lucky.Penny Sharpe was supposed to do a proper count but has decided against it. She just plans a Massacre,refer back to the Guy Fawkes NSW Slaughter in Early 2000’s,even the RSPCA was complicit in that one.The Whole Issue is fall of Lies and Propaganda.

Why is this culling going ahead needs to stop now

From a very flawed statistical model. The growth in numbers is physically impossible All horses including the males would have had to have had to have had 2 foals each and there be 0 deaths.

Don’t stop at 3000! Zero is a better figure.

And what about deer, and camels, and donkeys, and buffalo?

Yep zero don’t bother with the bs of trophy shooting either_ letting the small ones get away
A functioning ecosystem needs all the native species to flourish not a 600 kg hard hooved, congregational selective herbivour You like feral horses, then put it on your own property and allow national parks to be free of all feral species. The snowy hydro got rid of sheep first out of the water collection areas because the turbidity of the water caused wear in the turbines. Then the cattle had to go for the same reason. There is a protected plot put in in the 1930,s to show what the natural vegetation would be with out cattle sheep and horses. It’s near Mt Cope Victoria. Go have a look as I have. Go have a look at the damage caused by pigs and deer and horses as I have There is no room for this sentimental folklore argument when native species are having their very planetary existence wiped out day by day JT
John Ireland

And Snowy 2 has no impact on the native species. It seems very selective as to what you deem damaging to the environment.

So you know the area well ? Pristine waterways the ecosystems look great apart from the man made mess

The Snowy Mountains is a national treasure, We all love horses and some of us even love goats, pigs, camels and donkeys, though I don’t think anyone loves cane toads or Foxes. When animals that have bought into Australia and let loose they become Feral animals and all of them have a huge impact on our natural environment. I for one fully support this initiative NSW Parks.

The numbers are based on a statistical extrapolation, not actual headcount. It is physically impossible for the increased numbers they quote. Please read the submission from the equine vet specialist Joanne Canning for the actual numbers and published papers about what we do know about the brumbies and their impact. Most of these scare stories are out and out lies and propagated by NPWS because the horses are an easy target. Pigs deer and wild dogs are harder to manage, and yet are the major reason for damage in the park.
If you think aerial shooting is acceptable, you have never seen or heard a horse screaming in pain as they slowly drag themselves trying to escape their pain, bleeding out or being peppered with bullets. Or seeing a pregnant mare go into spontaneous abortion with a half delivered foal after being wounded. Or perhaps watch a little foal starve to death while it’s mother dies, or watch it being ripped apart by wild dogs or pigs. Clean kill of a galloping horse from a moving helicopter is not possible. Ask them. Do some independent research, don’t just parrot the first propaganda from the self interested groups, or liars like penny sharpe or Chris Minns

Kristina you are spot on with all of your comments. Most of the greenies are anti all animals and most live in the middle of suburbia with their fake lawns. These are the morons that Penny Sharpe is trying to appease and hence win their votes.
Anyone who think that the horses won’t suffer terrible deaths during Arial shooting is either delusional or knows naff all about horses.

“Aerial shooting, when carried out by highly trained personnel in accordance with rigorous standards, delivers the best possible animal welfare outcomes,”

History has shown that not to be the case. Perhaps the RSPCA should be allowed to monitor whether the animals suffer and apply an appropriate fine for every ‘unclean’ shot!

Th area of the shoot must be recorded and people on foot sent in to finalise

Only recently in the news I have read about discoveries of dying Horses wounded and suffering.

The RSPCA actually support the aerial shooting!


Horses are not the only problem, wild dogs (not dingos) feral cats and feral pigs are just as big a problem for the park and adjoining graziers as the dogs and cats come out of the park to attack their sheep and cattle, Don’t see any mention about control methods for these feral animals.

That’s because control measures are already being undertaken for the other animals. No one gets up in arms about culling wild dogs. I guess dog lovers are a bit more thoughtful and understanding than horse lovers

They are also using 1080 along side the shooting..The latest DNA testing is also showing very few feral dogs.. Dingoes in this area are very pure. They also use 1080 on wild hogs at 70mg which KILLS every thing…they don’t care..they could use Sodium Nitrite on the hogs, they are allergic to it, they simply lay down , go to sleep and die..

All these invasive species are a problem for our unique native animals. At a minimum our National Parks should be a refuge from ferals.

Admirable but very naive goal. There is not a square km across Australia that doesn’t have an introduced species. And noone has shown any evidence that wild horses are causing the damage. Check the ground – you will see pig tracks and deer tracks

It would be easier to pick out stallions and euthanasia them stopping mating and further breeding and then try to cull older mares which I’m sure keen eyed shooters could pick out easily … some people will disagree but that way the numbers will reduce each year if the stallions are reduced and young stock could be sold for other purposes . Once stallions are removed mare and foals are easier to control and herd . High country cattle man could be employed to bring them in for sale and the money could be donated to nature conservation or conservation to protect the environment in the area … it’s a bit of work but it’s possible …it would be far better than to shoot and leave rotting carcasses everywhere up there .. some good quality hay will bring them down to graze it’s only a suggestion but a doable idea…

Killing stallions and old mares is actually a bad idea. Loosing a stallion can throw a herd into chaos, he is their leader and protector.
The old mares are the ones with all the knowledge, where the best grazing is and where to find water, and they pass this knowledge on to the younger generations.
As for leaving rotting carcases up there, that has already happened a few weeks ago! NSW Parks conducted a big ground kill, approximately 146 (could be more) horses shot and left to rot on the plains!!
If you are on Facebook, have a look at the Snowy Brumby Photography Adventures with Michelle and Ian page. There are photos of this massacre, they did not discriminate in who they put a bullet in, foals included!!

Shooting from the air is not the way to do this doesn’t, matter how good they are horses will be left to die slowly. If they need to do this it should be done from the ground and take out the old and lame horses like a proper cull not indiscriminate shooting from a helicopter. 18 thousand horses sounds like a made up number to justify this practice

Hard hoofed animals were never meant to be in that fragile environment. Cows, goats & horses. Horses, beautiful animals but removal just hasn’t been effective so they unfortunately need to be shot. No “Man From Snowy River” sentimental rubbish needed.

So humans will have to go barefoot so our hard boots don’t hurt the fragile environment,

Being shot from the sky and seeing your friends dropping dead around you doesn’t seem humane at all.

That’s how they kill the pigs, goats and deer. Are you suggesting that should stop also?

Yes aerial culling is not ok in any circumstance. Cruel – criminal

Just leave the animals alone if it wasn’t for us humans their wouldn’t be an issue we are the problem not them why don’t we aerial cull the over population of humans that destroy the planet?

So true

They aren’t wild horses they are feral introduced animals destroying our native wildlife and fauna, no different than feral pigs, they should’ve been eradicated totally years ago

Humans are doing more damage than any horse what a joke the government is hell awaits them all

I totally agree

Australians have a completely opposite opinion regarding ‘wild’ ponies (brumbies) roaming their National Parks to the UK. Over there they see the horses as being a vital part of the ecology and they are protected. They do an annual round-up and keep the numbers down. They don’t shoot them from the air! Australians have a ‘shoot everything’ mentality. The practice of horses playing a role in the health of the land has been in use for 1,000 years in England, how come we are so determined to see them as a threat rather than an asset?

Yes we’ve been to the New Forest & Dartmoor to see the “wild ponies”. They are all tagged & are rounded up every year for a health check.
Australia’s fragile alpine environment is a totally different cenario to the UK.
Our horses are feral.

Yet another all Australian disgrace. Leave the remaining brums to be re homed. I’m ashamed of the acceptance of a flawed count system. Shame on you.

Saw a photo in the paper of a waterhole with damage by brumbles, didn’t seem to be as much as the deep four wheel drive tracks left by the photographer.

You’ve got it in a nut shell Ralph, perfect analogy of what’s happening everywhere, humans have biggest impact on environment, who gets to decide who stays and who goes?

Didn’t like my last comment. Well a few years back, the National Parks decided on an aerial cull of deer in Tumblong state Forrest. Next day I went out to check my stock and found 400 b____y kangaroos in my paddock. By now ,you might guess, I amtotally against aerial culling.

Disgraceful that they are going ahead with this outdated , cruel ,archaic, inhumane system of aerial culling on the basis of flawed count methodology, they should hang their collective heads in shame.

Ms Sharp is out of control,
We humans as a population do more damage to the environment than any animal,
We not only harm one another, but the very earth we exist on.
Light horse men would roll in their graves.

Certainly we could learn to live more sustainably but this argument about people doing more harm than horses is merely intended to muddy the waters. Surely no one would seriously suggest that we start shooting people.

I hope they will use lead free bullets. Because lead kills the animals and birds that feed on carrion. Especially vultures.

I agree with Ms Sharpe is out of control. She was elected because she said not Arial shooting is going to happen.
Like all pathetic lier politicians tell lies to win election by manipulating people trust.
Feral horses and feral animal are not destroying the grounds of the National Park neither are responsible for extinction of other animal species.
The echo system was created to maintain the green without extinction of other animals.
Arial shooting and culling is very unhumane and animal cruelty, killing of the mares and their foals should be penalised by the animal welfare laws.
The more humane and animal welfare protection of the animals should be rehoming, fertility control and checks up, sell to feral animal conservation people, culture, heritage and Australia Conservation who respect Australia Indigenous beliefs.
I agree with people who says humans are destroying the echo system, forest and the planet earth doing more damage than the animals.
These monster humans who are over populated should be cull and destroy by Arial shooting and hang their heads to sell them to hell where they belong.
Leave the animal live God created the echo system with these animals to live for a reason.
Stop destroying God creation, maintain it.

Last edited 1 month ago by Maribel

One of the biggest problems about this whole thing is the fact that the numbers are way off!! There are not 18,000+ Brumbies on the range!!! Penny Sharpe and her people are using a formula that was developed quite a few years ago that has been proven to Not be Accurate!!! There was a large group of people that divided up in this past year and went into the park on horseback and foot to designated areas to count and photograph the Brumbies. They counted approximately 1,800 Brumbies!!! Huge difference!! If they follow through with this cull they may just Extinct the whole Brumbie population!!

The culling of the Brumbies recently has proven that the people they have hired to carry out the shooting are not qualified to do the job because the majority of the horses were Not shot dead there were hit in Non kill areas and were left to suffer and die from poorly aimed gun shot wounds!!

I would also like to add that apparently drones have been used to count Koalas! But the powered that be haven’t used drones to count the Brumbies!! Why not? I’m just curious!

You can’t kill a horse humainly from a helicopter this is crazy .

Ariel culling is a national disgrace. The government have grossly overestimated horse populations and environmental so called damage. Barbaric Ariel shooting or shooting is never ok. Leave the brumbies alone. There are less then 1500 in total. There are benefits to leave Brumbies who have adapted to the ecosystem over past 200years. They have been in the environment longer then most of the human population. Shame on our governments and mean humans who support this cruel culling methods.

Think about it! Why is our National Park ‘fragile’ and the UK’s National Parks are not? You say horses are feral, but every country has them and who knows where they originate from. How can one group embrace and value the horse contribution and another demonise their horses! I don’t believe our land requires a completely opposite approach to maintaining the health of the National Parks. It’s controlled by a few who fabricate problems which are believed by too many.

Why not give people who want horses to go catch them instead of killing them

Agreed, there’s always options, but parks don’t care

How to stop this?


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