Focusing on wild horses across the province

Alberta group builds awareness and works to create a heritage species act

As members of the Wild Horses of Alberta Society (WHOAS), a nonprofit organization actively engaged in a plight to conserve the Wild Horses of Alberta.

Currently Honorable Minister Diana McQueen of sustainable resources and development (SRD) is undecided at this time of issuing cull permits to trappers to further remove Alberta’s wild horses from the western foothills and eastern slopes of the Alberta Rocky Mountains.

Once the decision is made the permits issued to trappers will be as early as Nov. 1, with the trapping season starting Dec. 15.

In the past two winter seasons over 350 head have been captured and sent to slaughter.

This is an indiscriminate cull taking foals, pregnant mares and stud horses. These permits are issued to trappers who construct catch pens, illegally bate the traps with hay and salt to lure the horses in. Once they are captured they herded into trailers and taken to the kill floors.

WHOAS was able to buy a few head from these trappers, eventually offering them for adoption, but due to limited facilities, relying on members and donations, resources are limited.

Estimates from office of sustainable resources and development state there are fewer than 770 head left in the wild.

We are not certain how these numbers are calculated as there never has been an official study on population numbers. Taking into consideration foal mortality, due to Alberta spring weather and predators it will take years for these numbers to replenish.

The hardest hit area last winter was the Panther River, Ghost Reserve Area. Where there once were great bands of horses free roaming in this area, only a few horses remain. This has impacted tourism to the area many times over.

Tourists consisting of Albertans, other provinces and several countries from around the world (Germany, Holland, Bulgaria, Belgium, South Africa, Australia) have come to the area to expecting to view the wild horses, along with the other flora and fauna, only to leave disappointed to witness the destruction and greatly reduced numbers of wild horses.

Traveling in private vehicles, tour buses, taking a trail ride into the backcountry, booking accommodations at a local outfitters etc.; this has huge effects on the local economy continuing for years to come. Please write or call the Honorable Minister of Tourism Christine Cusanelli, and let her know how important wild horses are for Tourism Alberta and the Alberta Economy.

Wild horses have been a part of the west country of Alberta dating back to the 1800s.

These free roaming horses have evolved over the years and with natural selective breeding creating a gene pool distinct to only Alberta. Where you aware these same horses were captured during World War I, taken to Europe and served as mounts for the military. Does this not say something for their ruggedness and hardiness.

These same wild horses are an integral and natural part of the eco system assisting in the control of wild fires, grazing the cut blocks, a natural food source for the grizzly (protected species), black bear and wolves. The whole eco system has been disrupted now with 31% of the total herd taken to slaughter in the past two seasons!

The pressures of this cull will increase role of the elk, deer and moose populations play from the predators with this large percentage taken. The wild horses of Alberta do cohabitate naturally alongside the elk, moose and deer.

Support from Albertans and Canadians is required to prevent the cull of 2012/2013, bring forward the motion to create an Alberta Heritage Species Act.

We urge you to contact Honorable Minister Diana McQueen, SRD, The Honorable Christine Cusanelli, Minister of Tourism or your local member of the legislative assembly to stop this potential slaughter.

Currently the Government of Alberta considers these animals as a feral species even though this species is unique to Alberta. Please urge the Ministers and or your local MLA to promote them to have their status changed.

This would represent the first such legislation in Alberta. The wild horses of Sable Island are a protected species, recently the government of Saskatchewan has brought in legislation to protect their wild ponies and the Newfoundland pony is protected though legislation by the Province of Newfoundland.

Why is the Government of Alberta so lagging in this recognition and protection of our native free roaming wild horses?

For more information or to assist in the support of the wild horses contact the Honorable Minister Diana McQueen, the Honorable Christine Cusanelli, your local MLA or myself.

We welcome your feedback and support.

Members of WHOAS

Wayne Krejci, Shelby MacKenzie