CALGARY- The province has confirmed it’s going ahead with a plan to curb the number of wild horses in Alberta’s foothills.
Permits will be distributed this week to allow the capture of up to 200 feral horses near Sundre by March. The move is an effort to control the population, which has had a rough winter.
“Because of the deep snow and the cold weather, the horses are really struggling to find feed,” explains Bob Henderson from the Wild Horses of Alberta Society. “I worry about them quite a bit. I’ve been out here so many times since the snow came.”
Over the weekend, one foal became trapped in heavy snow and had to be pulled to safety.
“It was so weak that it couldn’t get up, even if the mare wanted it to. So the herd had actually moved on.”
The foal will now be kept as a trail horse, but others won’t be so lucky. Those who capture the animals can do whatever they want with them—including sending them to slaughter.
The government estimates there are about one thousand feral horses in Alberta, a number which continues to grow. However, activists don’t agree.
“We’re saying there doesn’t have to be a capture season, there shouldn’t be a capture season, because these horses are so stressed in this weather here,” Henderson adds. “Mother Nature controls the numbers herself, so as hard as that is to witness, you’ve got to accept that that is part of nature.”
Still, the province is defending the move.
“Feral horses are not native to Alberta. They have no natural predators and they compete for food sources with native wildlife, such as deer and elk, and with livestock, such as cattle,” explains Carrie Sancartier from Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development. “So it’s important that we manage feral horses to ensure that there’s enough feed for all of the species that are on our land.”
The last count was done in March 2013.