November has brought in the snow and cold to wild horse country. The back country roads are busy everyday as it is hunting season for big game hunters. Soon however this season will end and the country side will settle down allowing all of the creatures to get on with the business of life. Hopefully the snows will not come as hard and heavy in December as they did last winter, making it such a hard struggle for the animals including the wild horses, to survive.
WHOAS continues to make strides forward in our goal of assuring that the wild horses of Alberta do not have to undergo some of the atrocities that have occurred to them in past years. Since we were formed we have not strayed from our goals to work for the benefit of the horses or from our Mission Statement: ” Our mission is to ensure the provisions of all aspects of the conservation and humane treatment of wild free-roaming horses in Alberta. We are committed to the preservation of these magnificent animals in their natural environment.” We continue to work hard in our efforts to make this a reality for the horses.
In doing so WHOAS has entered into a new and exciting endeavour. As of November 1, 2014, we have entered into an agreement, called a Memorandum of Understanding, with the Alberta government’s Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (ESRD) department. This is a momentous occasion for the wild horses, WHOAS, and the ESRD. This document is a five year agreement that allows WHOAS to work in collaboration with the ESRD to humanely manage wild horse populations in the Sundre Equine Zone.
How will this be achieved? The first is the PZP contraception program where a limited number of wild horse mares will be selected each year to receive this vaccine. Working with our veterinarians and other university researchers, we will show over these 5 years, that this is as very effective humane and safe method of helping control wild horse populations. The number of horses on the landscape is the biggest concern for other stakeholders and users of our Alberta public lands. Therefore this program becomes an essential management tool. The total cost of this whole program is being paid for by WHOAS which includes a large donation by one individual.
The second strategy is an adoption program. In the past, wild horses that strayed onto private land and roadways or got themselves into trouble were generally removed and many ended up going for slaughter. Now WHOAS will have the authority to rescue these horses. Some times in the wild, foals are abandoned by their herd, especially when the dominant stallion is replaced by a new one. WHOAS will also have the ability to rescue these foals. This past summer we had to rescue 9 wild horses that found themselves in these situations. We have had to keep them at a member’s private ranch until they were adopted out. Handling the older horses was difficult, but we did it and found forever homes for them.
Another factor in this adoption agreement is that only if or when necessary, WHOAS will be called upon to remove some horses from their environment. At this point we will be very selective ensuring that only the younger horses are removed and not whole herds or pregnant mares. This will assure that the dynamics of the wild horse herds will remain intact. Again, if this becomes the case, it is our aim that all these animals will be gentled and put up for adoption. No more wild horses will ever be sent for slaughter.
Now, due to a very generous donation of 20 acres of land from Art and Helen Kohanik. WHOAS now has a site in which to construct a proper humane and safe handling facility. To this end we have begun construction.
A facility such as this has been long sought after by WHOAS. With proper pens and equipment, we can make sure that any animals that come under our care can be handled safely.
Also having the proper ability to handle these wild horses will make the process of gentling them for adoption much easier.
A team of dedicated volunteers continue to work hard to have this ready as soon as possible. WHOAS also wishes to thank some of the businesses who have helped out with equipment, materials, supplies and time. There have been many and we are grateful for all this support which helps with the financial costs. Again, all the costs to have this facility put into place and running, except for the donations as mentioned, is being born by WHOAS. To this end the sale of our annual fundraising calendar supports these endeavours. We want to thank the hundreds of people who have already purchased the calendars to help us save our Alberta wild horses.
Another fascinating feature of this piece of property is that there is a herd of wild horses that also calls this area home. Every day when we are there to work, they come to visit. The stallion of this herd is a magnificent creature that really typifies all that is wild about our horses. We have named him Portero (the gatekeeper).
As we move forward with our work for the wild horses we also will use this facility to develop an educational program and visitor centre. Here there will be opportunities to learn more about the history of our wild horses and the role they play in the ecosystem of the foothills today.
We encourage anyone who wishes to help us to order a calendar, as all monies raised, is used for the wild horses. The cost of the calendar is $25 which includes postage and handling and can be ordered by sending a cheque or money order to:
Olds, AB T4H 0A3
Or you can also use the PayPal link on the previous blog to order online.