Alison Redford, the Premiere of Alberta, upholds the governments decision to cull the population of its wild horses. Horses are feral animals, said Redford 2 weeks ago, and affect pasture lands.
“I understand people have concerns,” Redford told reporters. Redford recognizes that people “can get quite emotional about this…But at the end of the day, the decisions that are made have to be made in the context of the best possible use of our resources, our land management.” The roundup could cause death and injury to the horses which are causing many to worry. The other primary concern critics have is that, once captured, the wild horses will be sent for slaughter and they want the plan abolished immediately by the Albertan government.
Joe Anglin, the environment critic for the Wildrose Party of Alberta, does not believe there was enough scientific evidence to support the plan of culling the wild horses. “Premiere Redford has failed to conduct a pragmatic, fact-based analysis of the horses’ herd, range and patterns, which has ultimately put them at risk of being culled.” says Anglin. A license has been issued by Alberta Environment which allows the capture of 200 wild horses in central Alberta.
As reported by the Albertan government, the feral horse population had increased from 853 to 980 in the last year. The last issuance of such a license removed 216 horses in 2011.
Rather than sending the horses to slaughter, Anglin says the residents would rather the option to adopt. An option the Albertan government is not giving. “The feral horses, ” Anglin said, “is a proud symbol of Alberta’s frontier heritage. We should strive to keep it that way.”
Jann Arden, Canadian singer/songwriter, has lent her voice to the cause of saving the horses. The artist has joined Dr. Judith Sampson-French, a veterinarian in Bragg Creek, and a rancher in an aerial survey of the feral horses near Williams Creek, Alberta. Sampson-French said, “Because there [will be] fewer horses in the area, there’s more resources so reproduction and foal survivor rate will go up.” The reason being that this cull will create “compensatory mechanisms” which will just lead to another cull. Sampson-French is developing a contraceptive program to control the population growth of wild horses and is asking the province for approval of the privately funded program.
Activists have put up make-shift campsites in the area, bringing in bales of hay in an effort to keep the horses from eating the hay traps some cullers put out. Five advocates have already been arrested and charged with mischief by the RCMP.
Members of the Wild Horses of Alberta Society are demanding the province safeguard the horses instead of sending them to slaughter. Some want the wild horses to be affirmed as a “heritage species” in order for a competent management strategy to be put in place. For many farmers and ranchers, the wild horses are a nuisance and are eating valuable grazing land for cattle, livestock and other wildlife. The ranchers do not agree that the wild horses are native to Alberta. Biologists in the province seem to concur because the horses are merely descendants of domestic horses brought to the area, in the early 1900’s, for mining and logging operations.
A petition has been started in order to stop the culling plan of Alberta’s wild horses. A little over 5,000 names are still needed. The petition can be signed by clicking on the link below.
By Derik L. Bradshaw