Alberta’s wild horse ‘cull’ angers animal advocates
Alberta declared the launch this week of a program allowing the capture of up to 200 free roaming horses in an area near Calgary. The people of Alberta should petition their government to stop these round ups. The assumption that most are adopted out by the ministry representative in the article seems naive at best. ~ HfH
From: The Star.com
By: Donovan Vincent
They galloped along hillsides freely during the days of the wild west, but an Alberta program allowing the trapping of “feral” horses has animal protection groups kicking up a storm.
The province’s Environment and Sustainable Resource Development Ministry declared the launch this week of a program, which will run until March, permitting the capture of up to 200 free roaming horses in an area west and northwest of Calgary.
Licence holders (the province charges $200 for a permit) will be able to trap in a designated area that covers 2.2 million hectares, though the herds tend to stick to a fairly small range near the town of Sundre, northwest of Calgary.
The province, which has taken these steps in previous years, says it’s allowing the capture for several reasons including public safety, as horses are getting onto area highways. The program is also intended to regulate the numbers of wild horses, and maintain wildlife habitat, the province adds. An aerial survey done by Alberta last March found at least 950 wild horses.
But horse protection groups are calling the program a “cull” arguing that the trappers will simply take the “easiest route” — sending the horses out for slaughter.
“They (trappers) just (put) them in a trailer and away they go to the meat barn . . . they’re out of their hair really, really fast,” says, Bob Henderson, president of the Wild Horses of Alberta Society, a preservation group that tried to stop the province from launching the trapping program this year.
The expense of feeding the horses, and the challenge of breaking them in, are often too big a burden for those who capture the animals, Henderson adds.
Carrie Sancartier, a spokesperson for the ministry, acknowledges that slaughter is an option, but says: “I don’t believe the majority (of horses) will end up (slaughtered).”
The ministry says the licence holders can also keep the horses for personal use, sell them, or adopt them out.
Sancartier says the wild horses have few natural predators, and share the same natural food sources as cattle, and wildlife such as deer and elk, which puts a lot of pressure on Alberta’s wild grass.
“We manage feral horses to ensure enough resources for all the animals that feed off that wild grass,” she says, adding the horses are classed as feral by the province because it takes the position the animals aren’t native to Alberta.
Henderson says his group’s fight isn’t with the permit holders, but rather the government of Alberta Premier Alison Redford and the environment ministry.
“They are the ones who continue to ignore the citizens of Alberta, the majority of whom are wanting to see the wild horses remain on the land, free from harassment,” Henderson posted on his group’s website. A petition, post card mail in, and letter and email writing campaign were launched to try to stop the trapping but the government went ahead anyway, Henderson noted.