The NSW government looks set to change its policy on the exploding numbers of feral horses. It is now considering allowing aerial shooting of the brumbies in the Kosciuszko National Park. The rethink follows a change of state government in Sydney and also repeated calls from inside the ACT where NSW horses intrude and destroy habitat. The ACT already has a policy of shooting the horses from the air. "Recent reports show that without action, wild horses could tip threatened species to extinction. There are simply too many wild horses for the park to cope," NSW Environment Minister Penny Sharpe said. "NSW is not on track to meet the wild horse population targets under the legislated Kosciuszko National Park Wild Horse Management Plan, which is why we must consider the introduction of aerial shooting." It follows calls for NSW to control the population. Canberra depends on the finely balanced ecosystem for its water supply. Two months ago, the ACT environment minister urged her NSW counterpart to do more to control the population. "The negative consequences of feral horses on our fragile alpine environment cannot be overstated. They can damage and destroy vegetation, compact and trample soil, and compete with native wildlife for vital resources like food and water," ACT minister Rebecca Vassarotti said. The change of heart in Sydney may have come about as the population of feral brumbies in the Kosciuszko National Park's explodes. The latest survey indicated they had increased by 30 per cent in two years, up to 18,814 horses in the park in November 2022 from 14,380 in late 2020. This was despite a NSW government commitment to reduce the horse population to 3000 by June 2027, using a range of control measures implemented by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service. The service blamed the increase in horse numbers to two "good seasons", following years of bushfires and drought which they said impacted the previous survey. The NPWS "removed" 859 horses from the park in the 10 months after the latest Wild Horse Management Plan was adopted by the government in November 2021. The Nature Conservation Council of NSW welcomed the decision to seek feedback on a plan to "allow aerial shooting as an additional option for the control of wild horses alongside the existing methods such as trapping and rehoming, and ground shooting". "It's great to see the minister recognise and respond to the manifest failure of the previous Liberal National government when it comes to feral horses, and the devastating impact this has had on alpine ecosystems and Indigenous heritage," the NCC's chief executive Jacqui Mumford said. "Based on the best available evidence, ground and aerial shooting represent the most humane and effective population control methods."