January 25, 2016
A 1 ½ year investigation and review of the Alberta government’s assertions that wild horses are overpopulating the landscape and causing ecological damage has found no scientific evidence supporting those claims.
Zoocheck reviewed all publicly available materials, as well as substantial quantities of additional documentation, including letters, notes, reports and other materials, obtained through a multitude of provincial Freedom of Information requests. As well, site visits to observe free-roaming horses and their habitats were also made and a technical review of the Alberta free-roaming (“feral”) horse management program prepared by expert consultant biologist Wayne McCrory.
The expert report and other materials were forwarded to Environment and Parks Minister Shannon Phillips in December to inform her 2016 capture permit decision-making process. View the report here. It is expected that the Minister’s decision is imminent.
“The report reveals that there is no science supporting the capture for ecological reasons of additional wild horses in Alberta. Furthermore, government officials are unable to point to any evidence of rangeland damage attributable to wild horses,” said Julie Woodyer, Campaign Director for Zoocheck.
Alberta Government representatives say they want to ensure that some wild horses remain on the landscape, but captures have continued in the absence of scientific justification for removals and with no regard as to how many horses are necessary to ensure the genetic integrity of the free-roaming horse populations. According to the Alberta Government there are now less than 800 free-roaming horses in all of Alberta and they are fragmented into sub-populations, numbers that experts say are far too low.
“Wild horse populations in other parts of Canada are protected, but Alberta’s wild horses are being managed toward extinction. They have already been nearly extirpated in the Brazeau Equine Zone due to government sanctioned captures,” Woodyer added. “We hope the Minister will move this issue away from making a purely political decision to satisfy the small subset of ranchers who don’t want the horses, to what the information and science actually shows.”
For more information contact:
Julie Woodyer, Campaigns Director
Toll Free: 1-888-801-3222