Independent ACT senator David Pocock has moved to establish a Senate inquiry into the contentious issue of feral horses and other hard-hoofed invasive species in Australian alpine national parks.
Senator Pocock has lodged a notice of motion in the Senate to establish the inquiry through the Environment and Communications References Committee, with a vote expected on Thursday.
The former Brumbies rugby vice-captain-turned senator said the inquiry would provide an opportunity to take a "calm, evidence-based" look at the challenge.
"Managing feral horse populations is a difficult and often emotionally-charged issue," Senator Pocock said in a statement.
The latest government survey data from NSW and VIC shows that there are more than 20,000 feral horses in the Victorian Alps and Kosciuszko National Parks.
In Kosciuszko, there has been a more than 30 per cent jump in numbers over the past two years.
A range of experts including Professor Don Driscoll at Deakin University, Professor David Watson at Charles Sturt University and the Invasive Species Council have documented and raised serious concerns about the adverse impacts on biodiversity from the high number of feral horses.
Senator Pocock said the senate inquiry would look at impacts and control measures.
"We are already grappling with chronic biodiversity loss and species extinction," he said. "It's really important that we face this challenge head on, in a constructive, considered way that prioritises the long-term ecological health of these ecosystems.
"This inquiry is an opportunity to take a really good look at the ecological health of the Australian alps national parks and reserves. It's also a chance to examine the powers and responsibilities of the Commonwealth, states and territories as well as our international obligations.
It comes as the NSW government has ruled out aerial shooting brumbies in Kosciuszko National Park, despite numbers expanding by 30 per cent in the past two years.
Brumby culling is being carried out in the Victorian alps after an advocacy group Australian Brumby Alliance lost a legal bid to stop it, but it is unclear how many horses have been removed.
The Invasive Species Council has welcomed the move.
Invasive Species Council advocacy manager Jack Gough said the inquiry would put a spotlight on inadequate protection from feral horses and other hard-hoofed invasive species like deer and pigs.
Mr Gough called on federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek to step in to force state governments to take more extensive and rapid action.
He said brumbies and deer threatened 35 state and nationally listed threatened species, including the mountain skink, the stocky galaxias, the northern corroboree frog and the mountain pygmy possum.