Zoocheck, a Canadian-based international wildlife protection charity, has released a report citing a lack of scientific evidence to support the wild horse culls in Alberta.
Over the course of 18 months, Zoocheck reviewed all publicly available materials and supplementary documentation obtained through provincial Freedom of Information requests, as well as a technical review of the Alberta free-roaming horse management program, prepared by expert consultant biologist Wayne McCrory. They also conducted site visits to observe the horses and their habitats.
According to Julie Woodyer, campaign director for Zoocheck, “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.”
A release on Zoocheck’s website states: “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,” said Woodyer.
Zoocheck sent its findings to Environment and Parks Minister Shannon Phillips in December to inform her 2016 capture permit decision-making process. As of press time, at the end of January, no decision had been made by the province on whether there will be a roundup this year.