New provincial legislation protecting wild horses in Saskatchewan has given people hope that Alberta horses can be saved, too.
Bob Henderson, president of Wild Horses of Alberta Society, said the government of Alberta has considered the wild horses invasive and “managed as such.”
“Here in Alberta, and in B.C. where we still refer to them as feral, it feeds into that mindset that maybe some people have that they are pests and can do anything they want with them,” Henderson said.
Saskatchewan law that protects horses in the Bronson forest northeast of Lloydminster from being killed, captured, hurt, molested or interfered with received unanimous support in its legislature.
People who break the law could face a fine of $1,000, be jailed for two months or both.
Henderson said it only took about six months for legislation to be passed in Saskatchewan after public outrage after a group of dead horses was found.
It wouldn’t take long to approve legislation in Alberta, where horses are ruthlessly shot or allowed to be captured for meat, he said.
Alberta’s 325 to 350 horse population can be controlled by natural predators, like cougars, and the often harsh environment.
As in Saskatchewan, they roam forestry areas “which is land that belongs to all of us,” Henderson said.
The society is trying to work with Sundre Chamber of Commerce to recognize that the horses have economic value as a tourist attraction.
“A lot of people don’t realize we truly have wild horses out there. They are beautiful, beautiful animals to see and they are part of the ecosystem as it exists in the foothills today.”