Feral horse

It is thought that there are 300,000 feral horses in Australia. They produce one to two foals each year, so their numbers increase quickly in the wild. 

In the Northern Territory (NT), wild horses are found in large numbers to the west of Alice Springs, in the Gulf region, in the Victoria River District and to the south of Darwin as far as Katherine. 

Impacts

Feral horses cause major damage to the natural environment.

This can include any of the following:

  • erosion of soil and waterways
  • spread of weeds
  • trampling of native vegetation
  • eating native seedlings
  • sedimentation of water bodies
  • destruction of infrastructure
  • competition with native animals and domestic cattle for resources
  • spread of disease and parasites to domestic stock and native animals.

Horses can travel 50km for food and water, which spreads their destructive impact.

Management

Feral horses can be managed in a number of ways.

This includes any of the following:

  • trapping or mustering to sell them commercially
  • aerial culling - this is the most effective, environmentally friendly and humane way to remove large animals, though this needs to be done by someone with extensive training
  • on-ground culling - this is humane and cheap, though it is limited to accessible areas
  • fertility control - this is difficult to use on large numbers of feral donkeys and treatment needs to be repeated to be effective.

Last updated: 28 November 2017