Wild horses exist in a number of areas of NSW, largely due to the early settlement of the land and a history of breeding horses for the military and remount trade. By far, the largest populations exists in the Kosciuszko National Park where numbers are in the order of 3000. Readers are referred to VBA Information Sheet Kosciuszko National Park Brumbies and A Short History of the High Plains Wild Horses from Kiandra to Peppercorn for more information on this area.
Other areas noted for wild horses include the Guy Fawkes Rivers, Oxley Wild Rivers, Yuraygir, Barrington Tops, Blue Mountains, and Kanagra-Boyd National Parks and the Yerranderie State Conservation Area. Horses also exist in non-conservation areas, particularly bordering parks.
In October 2000, the slaughter of over 600 brumbies in the Guy Fawkes River National Park sparked widespread public outcry and national media attention. The RSPCA condemned the cull and brought suit against the NSW Government. In response, the NSW Minister for the Environment banned aerial culling in NSW and set up an independent inquiry resulting in a plan of management of horses.
The inquiry included the publication of a Heritage Horse Study in 2002 which found that the Guy Fawkes horses had significant local heritage status and are descendants of Australia’s cavalry horses. The region contributed stock to what is now the Waler and Stockhorse. The investigation also revealed, via DNA testing, that inbreeding of Guy Fawkes brumbies is less than 5%, in contrast to Thoroughbreds which are about 20% inbred. The Guy Fawkes horses are the only wild horses in Australia with heritage status.
Another result of the Guy Fawkes cull was the establishment of wild horse interests groups who have been working with NSW National Parks to capture and re-home horses. The Guy Fawkes Heritage Horse Association, Save the Brumbies Inc. and the Oxley Heritage Horse Association (no longer operating) have been instrumental in protecting and promoting brumby horses.
Two horse registers, the Australian Brumby Horse Register and the Guy Fawkes Heritage Horse Register (Guy Fawkes brumbies only) were also born in the aftermath of the 2000 cull.
In 2014, the ABA conducted a desktop study to review the detailed events of the Guy Fawkes cull.
Dawson, M J, et.al.,Proceeding of the National Feral Horse Management Workshop, Canberra, August 2006, Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre