Police corral wild horse protesters

One of five people protesting Alberta’s wild horse capture arrested by RCMP on Tuesday said the group won’t rein in its resolve.

One of five people protesting Alberta’s wild horse capture arrested by RCMP on Tuesday said the group won’t rein in its resolve.

“They threw us in the slammer for quite a while to just let us simmer I guess and tried to make examples of us,” said Darrell Glover, an Olds-area rancher and the man behind a Facebook page devoted to preserving the West Country’s wild horse population.

“But it sure doesn’t dampen our spirits. In fact, it just heightens our resolve.”

Glover and the others, including a senior woman, were arrested by Sundre RCMP on Tuesday afternoon near a capture corral, about 30 km west of the town. Protesters had set up a camp near the corral to draw attention to the roundup.

In a news release, RCMP said police received a report on Tuesday that four people were camping at a licenced horse capture site.

“One individual was alleged to have been chasing away horses throughout the night on Feb. 24 to Feb. 25, 2014,” says the release.

“Police attended to ask the campers to relocate in order to prevent mischief to the licencee of the capture site by interfering with the lawful use of the licenced property.”

RCMP says the campers co-operated and packed up the camp.

However, later three women and two men were on the access road to the capture site and warned that they could not go to the site “as they would be interfering with the lawful use of the licenced horse capture facility by preventing horses from entering the capture area.

“The five individuals continued on their way to the capture site and were subsequently arrested by RCMP for mischief.”

They were all taken to the RCMP detachment and later released on a promise to appear in court and on the conditions that they don’t return to the capture site or have contact with the licence holder.

Glover said the group had already agreed to move their camp, which had been within 50 or 60 metres of the corral, and packed most of it up. They met up with Mounties on the snow-cleared route to the site and talked to them about how far they had to be from the corral.

Police left and Glover says he and the others went back in to make sure all the gear was gone when the Mounties returned and charged everyone.

They all ended up in handcuffs in the backs of two police vehicles and were taken back to the detachment. Glover said he was released from jail after about seven hours.

A court date has been set for March 31 in Didsbury.

Glover is taking the brush with the law in stride.

“I’m not angry. I’m just determined we’re going to make some changes.”

Members of the committee that advises the province on the wild horse issue are in a “blatant conflict of interest,” he charges. “We’re going to expose it.

“More than anything, what we are trying to do is get to the point where these horses do not end up in the slaughter plant. There is no need for that.”

There are more than enough people willing to adopt horses if the herd needs to be reduced, he said. A Bragg Creek veterinarian has also offered to oversee a contraception program to control populations rather than capture horses.

“We don’t have to capture and kill. If over-population is an issue there are other ways of controlling it.”

The attention created by the arrests can only help draw attention to their cause, he said. It was also helped last weekend when well-known Canadian singer Jann Arden joined Glover in his plane to do a head count and bring some star power to the campaign.

A horse capture was recommended by the wild horse committee last year after the annual spring count last March showed the number of horses had grown to about 980 from 778 the previous year.

An Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development said that number is too high and risk putting pressure on the food sources for livestock and wildlife, such as deer.

The goal of the capture is only to reduce the number of horses not eradicate them, says the province.

As of last week, only two permits had been issued with one pending, according to an email from Alberta Environment. Only a dozen horses had been caught out of the maximum target of 200. The permit period is to expire on Friday.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

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