The Wild Horses of Alberta Society

“Wherever man has left his footprints in the long ascent from barbarism to civilization, we find the hoofprint of a horse beside it.” John Moore

Who We Are

The Wild Horses of Alberta Society (WHOAS) was formed as a nonprofit society in 2002 following the public outcry over the destruction of several wild horses that were living along the Eastern slopes of Alberta’s Rocky Mountains. Since 2002, WHOAS has been working diligently and progressively on the protection and preservation of Alberta’s wild horses.

In March of 2015 WHOAS was Registered as a Charitable Organization. As such, our operation runs solely on membership fees, adoption fees, donations and fundraising efforts. We do not receive financial support from the government in any way.

**More detailed information regarding our funding is available in the Funding page of our website.

WHOAS has always believed there is a better way to manage the wild horse populations in a more humane and civilized manner. WHOAS is part of the government’s Feral Horse Advisory Committee (FHAC) and is the only nonprofit, volunteer member advocating on behalf of the wild horses who have no voice.

WHOAS has secured land adjacent to the forestry and has set up our rescue/handling facility so that we can continue to work to rescue and rehabilitate wild horses that have been found injured or abandoned.  We have an established adoption program and provide education and training on the gentling and handling of these wild animals.

What We Do

Alberta’s wild horses are currently regulated under the Stray Animals Act, which at minimum, affords them some protection as it is against the law to shoot them or use snares to capture them. However, under the auspice of Alberta’s Minister of Parks and Recreation an annual capture season can still be declared if the government deems it necessary. If that happens, wild horses in large, indiscriminate quantities would be captured and removed by any licensed horse trapper, and “disposed of” as that trapper sees fit. (Usually auctioned off to the highest bidder).

WHOAS has always believed there is a better, more humane way to manage the wild horse populations, if and when it is deemed necessary to manage them. In an effort to build a relationship with the deciding parties, WHOAS has been part of the government’s Feral Horse Advisory Committee (FHAC) since it’s inception in 2013, Through this membership, we are able to offer a strong voice in favour of protecting the Wild Horses of Alberta. WHOAS is the only Registered Charitable Society advocating for and giving a voice to the Wild Horses of Alberta.

WHOAS has also been active for years in helping private landowners who live adjacent to the crown land maintain fences to help keep the horses on the public land where they belong. Whenever possible, we also volunteer to help haze horses back across the fence when they do stray on to private land.

Our first goal is and has always been, to see the horses remain wild and free. Unfortunately, situations do occur where wild horses find themselves in distress, in a dangerous situation, or causing problems for private landowners adjacent to crown land, and those landowners want the horses captured and removed.

As a responsible society, we would be remiss if we did not acknowledge that whether we like it or not, there are many other groups who utilize or have procured permission to utilize the public land that these horses and other wildlife call home. And whether we like it or not, the wild horses can create problems for those users, and for private landowners adjacent to the public land. In those cases, and because of the current laws associated with the Stray Animals Act which these horses and we all are governed by, we choose to rescue the horses who get into trouble, gentle them and offer them a good future with humans that they otherwise would not have.

In keeping with that choice, WHOAS has been granted a capture license through the Government of Alberta. If a report is made indicating that wild horses are in distress, or a complaint is made about wild horses who have strayed on private land and are deemed to be a nuisance, this permit then allows WHOAS to step in and humanely capture those horses.

For more information on the steps and legalities involved in a capture, please reference our FAQ section.

How Are We Regulated?

Wild Horses in Alberta are considered “feral” and are governed by the Stray Animals Act. Livestock Inspection Services (LIS), administers or manages animals who fall under this act. When Stray livestock is found trespassing in other people’s property or on highways, LIS may impound the livestock and locate the owner or last person in possession and assist in making arrangements for return. In cases where the owner or last person in possession of the livestock can’t be found, or if they can’t pay the incurred stray expenses, then the livestock will be sold by public auction. In the past, if the strays are wild horses, the LIS would contact anyone with a horse capture permit to round up the horses in question who would then be taken to auction where they would end up, in most cases, in the possession of local meat buyers.

In the last few years, WHOAS has come to an agreement with the government of Alberta and the LIS, enabling us to step in and rescue these horses and bring them to our facility. The horses that stray on to private land make up almost 99% of the horses WHOAS rescues and adopts out. Once captured, we are obligated to file a report specifying the age, class, sex, colour and any markings of each horse captured. Pictures must be submitted within 48 hours of the capture.

It is important to note that, according to the law, once captured, we Can Not release horses back onto public land. It is also important to note that if not for WHOAS’ adoption program, these horses would likely be sold at auction and very likely slaughtered for their meat. By cultivating a mutually respectful relationship with the Government, the LIS, and local private landowners, WHOAS has been able to significantly contribute to the fact that since 2015 no culls have been carried out, with no large scale random removal of wild horses being deemed necessary.

You can find more detailed information in our FAQ section.

Our Facility

Once WHOAS rescues a wild horse, then by government regulations, we are not permitted to relocate the horse back onto public lands.

In 2014, realizing a need for a larger scale rescue facility, WHOAS was fortunate to have a small parcel of private land adjacent to the forestry donated to our cause. Here we were finally able to build a proper barn and holding pens to ensure we are able to provide the care and rehabilitation for wild horses that have been found injured, abandoned or who have strayed onto private land and had to be removed.  Once the animals have settled into their new temporary home at our facility, we begin the gentling process getting them ready for eventual adoption to their new forever home.

Through the facility and all of the wonderful volunteers who show up every day to care for and work with the horses, we have developed an established adoption program and are able to provide quality education and training on the gentling and handling of these magnificent wild animals.

How to Connect With Us

To reach us via email:

Our mailing address:

Find us on Facebook:

Our rescue/handling facility is located 15 minutes west of Sundre, Alberta. Send us an email to book a time to visit or call the phone number at 587-444-2247. Our volunteers will be happy to arrange a time when they are there to show you around.

Our News

Annual Government Horse Counts

It is important to note the following inconsistencies between the 2023 count and this year’s count.  • A total count of 1478 horses was listed for 2024. In 2023 the count was 1428 horses.  • A count was NOT done of the Elbow zone in 2023, but was counted in 2024 and this year shows […]

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Canadian Wildlife Magazine Article – Feb’24

Recently, Canadian Wildlife Magazine released their March April 2024 issue. Within the magazine is an article on Alberta’s Wild Horses. We were fortunate to have had our past president and founder of WHOAS, Bob Henderson, interviewed for this article. While we would stress that there is information in the article that WHOAS does not necessarily […]

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WHOAS Fundraising Banquet

Join us on May 4, 2024 at the Olds Legion in Olds Alberta, for our Annual Fund Raising dinner for the Wild Horses of Alberta Society. Tickets are $35 per person and available from any one of our Board Members. You can also request tickets by messaging us on our Facebook page, or by emailing […]

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