SPCA New Zealand
Advice & welfare

Feral Horses

Animals in the Wild

SPCA advocates for fertility control be adopted by wild horse advisory groups as a tool to reduce the need for mustering, rehoming, euthanasia, or slaughter.

Population management of feral horses must have clear goals and objectives, include robust monitoring of impacts on both the horses and biodiversity protection goals, and evaluated to ensure the least harm is done to the targeted animal to achieve the goals.

SPCA advocates for feral horse management to be conducted with only the most humane methods of control.

Mustering is a stressful process which involves use of helicopters to herd horses into yards, separation of social groups, confinement, and exposure to humans. Horses may be loaded on to trailers for transportation for rehoming or slaughter or killed on site. Mustering should not occur when mares are heavily pregnant or foals on the ground are very young.

Rehoming of feral horses should only be done when they can experience a Good Life, where they experience positive welfare and their physical, health, and behavioural needs are met. This includes ensuring a forever home (rather than multiple changes of ownership), gelding stallions as soon as possible, and also microchipping all feral horses and registering the microchip on the NZCAR database.

Mustering for the purposes of rehoming should only occur when suitable homes have been identified and prospective owners are competent at providing care to feral horses to ensure their welfare needs are met.

SPCA opposes the shipment of feral horses to slaughterhouses due to the negative impacts of mustering, sorting, loading, and transporting result in unnecessary suffering.

Horses that are not suitable for rehoming must be humanely killed as soon as possible.

(See Pest Control for more information)

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