New Year – New Horses

For the upcoming year WHOAS is still working hard to protect and save our Alberta wild horses. So far winter has not been too bad for the horses and the snowpack in the foothills is still relatively low making it a little bit easier for the horses to find enough feed.

This is Portero, our resident herd stallion that has been with us over eight years roaming about our property with his herd of mares and foals. Last year four of the mares in his herd had foals, three fillies and one colt all of whom all have been weaned. We have temporarily sheltered him in our pens to give the mares some respite from his intentions, hopefully to reduce the chance of them being bred again this year. As you can see Portero is advancing in age. He is about 19-20 years of age, so he needed a break too! We are happy to tell you is settled and quite happy in his pen as he can still see his herd.

Of the four foals born last year to Portero, the colt and two of the fillies have already been adopted. The pictures above are of Hailey, a little filly, who is still looking for a forever home. It will still be awhile before she could home to a new home, but as we always suggest, we encourage anyone who would like to adopt to come out and meet her and begin working with her.

Another reason Portero was segregated from roaming freely about the property is that WHOAS just last week had to rescue a small herd of four horses off of highway 584. We had received several complaints about this herd roaming outside the forestry and straying onto different roadways and property. WHOAS quickly responded to this situation and found the herd fairly close to our site and right alongside the highway. Vehicles including logging trucks were having to drastically slow down because of the horses.

At first the volunteers attempted to haze them back south toward the forestry, but that did not work as the horses then went west on our township road that leads to the WHOAS site. This roadway right now has a substantial amount of logging trucks using this road. The yearling with the herd actually fell on the roadway as a vehicle tried to pass. A decision was made then to get them off the roadway and onto the WHOAS property. They quickly went ahead and swung open our gates and stayed in place so that the horses had no choice but to get off the roadway. Luckily none of the horses were injured and no collisions occurred that could have injured someone.

We really believe it would have been preferred that they could have been left wild and free, but once they were safe on our property the government regulations state that we cannot return them to public lands. Why?

These are the four horses of this herd. The first picture is of the young stallion, the second is of a mature mare, the third is a two-year old mare, and the last one is the yearling filly.

Right now we are just allowing them to roam on part of our property, feeding them hay and getting them used to our site and people. We will just leave them for awhile and then make the decision on how we our going to handle them.

Suddenly our feed bill is going to go up drastically as we make sure all our horses are taken care of properly.

One of the things that upsets us the most about this whole situation is that the horses got out onto the roadway off of public land due to the lack of maintenance by either the government or the appropriate lease-holder of the fences bordering the forestry. We have spent numerous hours and money fixing fence in these areas, closing gates and securing them, trying to prevent events like this from happening. On several occasions we have complained to the government and other authorities about this problem. There is the Fence Line Act in the province of Alberta that is supposed to address the responsibility of the landowners, including the government, in properly maintaining their fence lines. No matter how many times we’ve tried to get some help, nothing has ever happened. So WHOAS continues to do our best to keep the horses where they belong.

This is the area where these four horses got off of public land and onto the roadway. As you can see the fence is right down and the horses can easily step over it. It is not the horses fault, they are just looking for feed and paw through the snow to find it. They will go wherever they can to ensure their own survival. As always, on the other side of the fence there is always lots of grass.

As we were fixing fence yesterday, we came across these two wild horses and their friend still on lease land but right up against the road where the top strand of wire was down. We moved them off and then commenced to fix yet another piece of fence line. This should not be happening.

On many of the back roads leading into the forestry, there are Texas gates that are supposed to keep cattle and wildlife, including the horses, on the public lands. However during the winter months as the roads are plowed these gates are filled with snow which allows any animal on the roadway to simply walk across with no difficulty. Again we have tried to address this issue with the powers that be but the complaints continue to be ignored with nothing being done. The only thing you hear are complaints that the horses are becoming a safety hazard on the roadways. Not why or how they got there.

The other problem we find is in certain locations gates are left open that are supposed to be shut. Again to ensure that animals stay where they are supposed to be. In a couple of cases WHOAS has made changes to some of the gates in order to make it a little bit easier to keep them properly shut. In problem areas we’ve also purchased signs to attach to the gates to hopefully remind whoever to please keep the gates closed.

If nobody is willing to accept responsibility to fix these fence lines, to ensure the horses stay off the road and where they belong, then WHOAS will. An estimation of the cost in the one particular area that is of most concern to us is $10,000 to $12,000. This work has to be carried out by a proper fence contractor that has the proper equipment to put up a safe and secure fence. We will be doing this as soon as the weather changes and until then we will be out there with our rebar and other fence repair materials. There will be more on this project going forward. Keep tuned. |

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