This winter continues to make it a struggle for our wild horses to find adequate feed because of the deep snows. In some places the snow is up to their bellies and they are trying so hard to find areas where it is not so deep. When observing them they work so hard to paw the snow aside. Then they bury their heads to the point where you cannot see them and the whole herd slowly moves ahead repeating the process over and over.
It is even harder on the younger members of the herd who have to follow in the hoof steps of the more mature horses. Here you can see one of the young ones right up to his belly in the snow of this meadow. Still right now it appears that most that we have seen are managing to remain in reasonable condition although the rib cages on the older ones are starting to show. Even in the nicer temperatures of the last week, these wild horses have to expend so much energy to find enough feed to survive. The life of the wild horses is not an easy one.
Part of the information we heard was that a road had been plowed in by a contractor paid for by the ESRD to an area where we know a horse trapper had set up his capture pens many years in the past. We were lucky enough that the owner of the ranch is also a pilot and he offered to take us flying out west to check on the wild horses. We also were determined to find out if this information was true. So it was wonderful to finally locate some of the herds that we had wondered about and hadn’t seen for some time because of the winter. Our hearts were soon to sink when we flew over the site that had been reported to us. There indeed was a trail plowed through the deep snow through a meadow and muskeg to the location where we know wild horses have been trapped in the past.
This trail led right around to where a site had been cleared off large enough to set up a capture pen.
It is hard for us to believe that what we are being to told about the decision about the issuance of capture permits had not been made when you see this. What would you think?
More information has come to light again from concerned individuals that meetings had taken place between the capture permit holders and the ESRD about going ahead with a capture season and that the ESRD would help get sites ready by having roads plowed. Another part of the information is that the reason they are going to go ahead with a capture season is because allegedly the wild horses are carrying Equine Infectious Anaemia or as is commonly known as swamp fever. This is a viral disease that can be carried and afflict horses. This disease is characterized by recurring fever, a staggering gait and general debility. It is transferred by horse flies. There is absolutely no proof that this is indeed fact in the wild horse herds. As far as we know, no work has ever been done to prove this and we have never seen evidence of this. The CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) who monitors this, reports that in 2012 there were only 10 cases in all of Alberta and they were all in the northeastern part of the province. No matter what most captured horses would end up going for slaughter.
Our request to the Minister for a response to our concerns about a capture season this year and now the issuance of capture permits goes unanswered. So now we wait….. I strongly believe in my own heart that we have been misled by the Minister and his staff.
We must continue to let the Minister and the ESRD know that the vast majority of Albertans treasure our natural resources including the wild horses and do not want to see them captured and sent for slaughter for the financial benefit of a few. So we encourage you to write, phone or email to Minister Robin Campbell voicing your concerns. Just remember that the arguments used against the wild horses and to justify a capture season are not based on any proven scientific evidence or facts, just old prejudices and greed.
Honourable Robin Campbell
Minister of Environment & Sustainable Resources
#323 Legislature Building
10800 – 97 Ave
Edmonton, AB T5K 2B6
780-427-2391 or toll free in Alberta 310-0000 followed by the previous number