Another cull season has come to an end for Alberta’s wild horse population. Unfortunately, the danger is not over for them, as they remain under the Stray Animals Act. Next year in February, right before foaling season, they will once more be under attack as a result of antiquated management policies and inaccurate, out-of-date ecological “studies” the ESRD and the pro-cull supporters cling to as a means of defending this annual trapping.
As a voting Alberta citizen, I believe it is not only my right but my duty to address this travesty of justice being committed against an animal that represents a huge part of Alberta’s history. These horses date back hundreds of years, and may even have DNA linking them to the original Spanish bloodlines that roamed this landscape when this country was first being settled. They also represent the horses that worked to settle this land. There are accounts of how the early North West Mounted Police had to abandon their regular horses for these stoic mountain ponies as their own mounts were not hardy enough to handle the terrain. We are also told of how these horses were used, again because of their natural hardiness and resistance to illness, to carry soldiers and pull wagons and artillery and pack food during the Boer War and the First World War.
And yet there are people out there, including some RCMP, who refuse to recognize these animals and choose to believe that it is OK to carry on with the mismanaged policies and practices that have been in existence for far too many years.
I would like to take a moment to have the reader consider some other practices that for years were considered acceptable, but that modern humanity would consider completely unacceptable and inhumane:
l For years, it was perfectly acceptable and in fact expected that anyone of any wealth and society would own slaves. Human beings who because of the colour of their skin were considered not even human. They were considered livestock that could be bought and sold on a whim, and treated with no respect.
l Until very recently, women were considered property of their husband or father. They had no rights to vote or contribute to society and were absolutely considered substandard to men.
l There was a period in history when it was acceptable and encouraged for man to wipe out entire buffalo herds and leave them to rot on the plains, in an attempt to starve the plains Indians and gain control of them as a people.
l For years the Canadian government had in practice a residential school system and it was perfectly acceptable to remove Inuit and aboriginal children from their homes and families to send them to boarding schools, where they were to be stripped of as much of their tradition as possible and assimilated into a the white man’s “civilized” world.
I think if you really read and digest the examples above, you may begin to understand just how uncivilized all of these beliefs really were, yet at the time were perfectly acceptable and, worse, these practices were expected. This is what I ask this government to consider now with the wild horses of Alberta.
As a result of a steering committee that is stacked with land users who, with the exception of WHOAS, all have an economic stake in seeing the horses removed or at least dwindled to a state of extinction, the ESRD continues to wear blinders with respect to alternative, more humane methods of management.
The ESRD refuses to even acknowledge current, up-to-date and relevant studies that show management of these herds may not even be required at this point. Every member, other than WHOAS, sitting on this steering committee stands to gain economically from the horses being removed from the Crown land west of Sundre.
This committee was formed as a tactic to blow smoke in the eyes of Alberta citizens, people our government has been elected to represent, not control. It is my opinion and the opinion of thousands of voting Albertans that this committee is nothing more than a good ol’ boys club, reminiscent of the of the good ol’ days when a black man knew his place, and a woman was kept barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen.
As an Albertan and a voting citizen, with as much right to the decision regarding the fate of these horses as any Albertan, I am calling for a moratorium of the annual cull until proper studies can be conducted by qualified scientists, biologists and veterinarians to determine if management is even required.
If management is scientifically proven necessary, then it is also imperative that we explore alternative, more humane methods of management.
I am also calling for the dissolution of the feral horse advisory committee as it stands because, with the exception of WHOAS, it is nothing more than a collusion of pro-cull supporters, set up to appease the general public into believing that proper research was done and proper care was taken in decisions made regarding the horses.
I trust you will agree that serious attention is required to change the current status of these horses in order to save them from future extinction, and to provide them with the protected status they have earned and that they more than deserve.