The Canadian battle for the wild horses – Part II
This is the second part of a three part series on Canada’s wild horse advocates battle with their equivalent to our BLM – the ESRD – Environment and Sustainable Resource Development Ministry. As is mentioned in the first paragraph below, a great deal of thanks needs to go to Duane Starr Photography for all the wonderful photographs – most of the photographs in this series come from his work. The situation in Canada is a mirror to our own. Just as we posted our list of shame for those who advocate horse slaughter, below in this article is a Canadian list of shame for those Canadian concerns that wish to do away with the remaining “wildies” (Canadian wild horses). In the third part, to be published tomorrow, we will include all the photos sent to Habitat for Horses to go with this article. Again, we wish to thank Virginia Fisher for her work on this excellent piece. If you have not yet read it, here is a link to Part I. ~ HfH
Our Battle with the ESRD – Part II
By: Virginia Fisher
Along the way, someone invited Jann Arden to join our fight and through Jann, we met Dr. Judith Samson-French, a veterinarian in Bragg Creek, who started Dogs With No Names, a scientific pilot program working to reduce the number of homeless dogs on First Nations reserves in southern Alberta through the use of contraceptive implants. Dr. Samson-French began telling us of a contraceptive vaccine available for mares, called PZP, and we thought this would be an excellent way to manage the wild horse numbers, and would certainly be a more humane way than tearing herds apart and sending horses to slaughter. Jann signed hundreds of pictures provided by Duane Starr Photography, and the funds raised from the sale of those pictures would fund the vaccine needed for a pilot project of initially 18 mares on the contraception program. WHOAS generously offered to pay for dart guns and darts, and all man/woman power needed to dart, track and monitor the 18 targeted mares, would be provided by volunteers. Bob Henderson had already been working on a Rescue/Adoption Facility for any wild horses caught that needed rehoming and Bob presented these two humane options to ESRD. The last meeting between the Committee and ESRD took place just a few days ago, and unfortunately, ESRD seems to be leaning toward another capture at the end of this year. Hard to believe anyone would choose a cruel and inhumane approach to managing numbers, rather than adoption and contraception, completely funded by private citizens. Does it sound to you like there is something we aren’t being told? We think so too.
We are insisting that the Feral Horse Advisory Committee, which is a Committee set up by ESRD, and all Stakeholders on the Committee are hand picked by ESRD, be balanced and fair. Currently, there is only one voice speaking on behalf of the wild horses, that being Bob Henderson of WHOAS. All other Stakeholders are pro-slaughter, and each and every one of them voted in favor of a Capture Season, knowing, and some even hoping, that horses would be sent to slaughter. Bill des Barres, frontman for Bouvry Meats, and founding member of Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada (HWAC) which is nothing more than a fast-track to slaughter, is also a Director of the Alberta Equestrian Federation. The remaining Stakeholders are self-interest groups who want the horses removed, as they claim they eat all the grass for the wildlife that they want to kill in hunting season, or are Forestry, who are tired of the wild horses getting in their way of making money on our Public Lands. Here is the current Feral Horse Advisory Committee:
Feral Horse Stakeholder List 2014
Alberta Equestrian Foundation
Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada
Alberta Farm Animal Care Association
Alberta Fish and Game Association
Alberta Professional Outfitters Society
Alberta Veterinary Medical Association
Alberta Wilderness Association
Capture License Holders
Livestock Identification Services Ltd.
Rangeland Expert at the University of Alberta
RCMP Livestock Investigator
Rocky Mountain Forest Range Association
Spray Lake Sawmills
Sundre Forest Products
Wild Horses of Alberta Society
The “red herring” put forward by ESRD of the wild horses being infected with Equine Infectious Anemia, turned out to be just that. We weren’t at all surprised, as Equine Infectious Anemia is a reportable disease, and no cases have been reported in that area, but it sure was fun watching ESRD scramble around trying to get out of it. As for the wild horses having no predators…..well, we kinda think the cougars, wolves, bears, packs of coyotes and especially MAN, take their toll on them. A special Permit was obtained for little Kai, and he will spend the rest of his days with his rescuers. We have also requested that ESRD stop calling our wild horses “feral”, as many of them have been DNA tested and are shown to have distinct DNA, not found in domesticated horses. One of ESRD’s favorite stories is how all the wild horses are domestic barnyard escapees. It’s just one of the ways they keep the “hate” going.
Part III will be published tomorrow.
Habitat for Horses is always on the lookout for a few great people at our ranches. The work is unique, the animals are special and we want folks who both know and understand the special connection our animals need.