Province more receptive to wild horse control proposals: society

A longtime opponent of Alberta’s wild horse capture program believes the government is growing more receptive to other options.

A longtime opponent of Alberta’s wild horse capture program believes the government is growing more receptive to other options.

Bob Henderson, of the Wild Horses of Alberta Society, was encouraged by Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development’s response to recent proposals to reduce horse populations where needed through contraception and foal adoption programs.

“They’re listening and it appears they are willing to take our proposals seriously,” Henderson said on Thursday.

“We’re certainly a lot more optimistic than we were earlier this year.”

Department spokesperson Carrie Sancartier confirmed the government is reviewing the society’s proposals among other management options for the horses that the government considers feral rather than wild.

Henderson believes growing public opposition to the annual capture — or cull in opponent’s eyes — has been changing government attitudes.

“Definitely, public pressure has got to them.”

This year’s program only saw 15 horses rounded up even though permits were available to remove up to 200.

The Feral Horse Advisory Committee, which includes representatives from trappers, ranchers, horse, animal welfare, veterinarian and conservation organizations, met last week in Red Deer to discuss the latest population count.

The annual tally done each March estimated the West Country horse population at 880, down about 10 per cent from last year’s count.

A harsh winter is to blame for much of that. Henderson said the numbers have likely dropped further since as weakened animals have died struggling to find enough food under a stubborn snow cover.

Those against the capture program feel those numbers vindicate their position that nature controls horse populations.

However, there is still concern on the committee that horse populations in specific areas, especially in the Sundre area, remain too high.

That’s where the contraception program, presented to the committee by two veterinarians, including Bragg Creek veterinarian Judith Sampson-French, comes in. Eighteen mature mares would be selected for injection through darts of a vaccine that will prevent them from getting pregnant for three years to control populations.

The Wild Horse Society also is promoting a plan to create a handling and education facility to house wild horses to further control populations if needed. Those animals would be cared for and trained by an onsite staffer and then adopted out.

A supporter has offered to donate land, with the details being finalized.

Henderson said the society would bankroll the cost of both programs through donations and is in the process of establishing charitable status, which will boost fundraising by allowing tax receipts to be issued.

The committee is expected to further discuss the society proposals at its June 22 meeting.

Sancartier said a decision has not been made yet on whether a capture will happen next winter.

“The committee will continue to meet throughout the spring. A decision about a capture season next winter would likely happen later this year,” she said.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

WATCH: Property taxes in Red Deer will go up 2.02 per cent in 2018

City council passes a “tough” budget that maintains most service levels

Red Deer councillor balks at city getting stuck with more funding responsibilities

Volunteer Central seeks municipal funding after being cut off by government

Olds chicken barn burns to the ground, no livestock harmed

More than 100,000 chickens were saved as fire crews prevent the blaze from spreading

Bear video meant to promote conservation: zoo owner

Discovery Wildlife Park says it will look at other ways to promote its conservation message

Red Deer’s Soundhouse closing its doors on Record Store Day

The owners of The Soundhouse want to shut down their store on… Continue reading

NorAm Western Canadian Cross Country Ski Championships begin in Red Deer

The biggest cross-country skiing competition in Red Deer’s history is underway. Nearly… Continue reading

In photos: Get ready for Western Canadian Championships

Haywood NorAm Western Canadian Championships and Peavey Mart Alberta Cup 5/6 start… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer city council debates cost-savings versus quality of life

Majority of councillors decide certain services are worth preserving

Got milk? Highway reopened near Millet

A southbound truck hauling milk and cartons collided with a bridge

Stettler’s newest residents overcame fear, bloodshed to come here

Daniel Kwizera, Diane Mukasine and kids now permanent residents

Giddy up: Red Deer to host Canadian Finals Rodeo in 2018

The CFR is expected to bring $20-30 million annually to Red Deer and region

Ice dancers Virtue and Moir to carry flag at Pyeongchang Olympics

Not since Kurt Browning at the 1994 Lillehammer Games has a figure… Continue reading

Beer Canada calls on feds to axe increasing beer tax as consumption trends down

OTTAWA — A trade association for Canada’s beer industry wants the federal… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month