Facebook Integration

Hello Everyone,

It has taken some time but it has taken some time to integrate our wildhorsesofalberta.ca site with facebook so you will now notice both sites will have the same information posted. Pardon as we iron out the kinks :)

PZP Presentation at Olds College

On Saturday the presentation put together by Dr Judith Samson-French on PZP contraception for your Wild Horses, was presented in Judith’s absence by Lori Rogers from the Calgary Zoo. It was a good turnout of folks who are truly interested in the preservation and humane treatment of these horses on Alberta’s Eastern slopes.
I thought it might be nice to post a few highlights from the presentation so that all of our followers will have a better understanding of the process and be able to share that knowledge with others.
1) PZP is an “Immuno Vaccine”, which unlike other contraceptives used in animals that are actually “hormonal”, does NOT change the normal reproductive cycling of mares who are injected, and does NOT affective the social behaviour of the herd. (Mares will still cycle, stallions will still breed them)
2) PZP creates a layer of protein that encompasses the egg in the inoculated mare, which is very tough and virtually impossible for the sperm of the stallion to penetrate and fertilize. It is 95% effective.
3) Contraceptive is administered by means of a dart that is delivered remotely – either by long range rifle, shorter range pistols, blow guns or through the use of stick poles. The best method of delivery has yet to be determined as obviously, to deliver by anything other than the long range rifle, the administrator would need to be in very close proximity.
4) Once darted, the contraceptive effects are reversible.
5)There are no ill side effects. An inoculated mare will continue to come into season and her eggs will be susceptible to fertilization the following year. She can be safely inoculated up to 3 times, 3 years in a row.
6) PZP is safe to give to pregnant mares and will not affect her foal.
7) The cost of administering a dose of PZP for one mare, 3 doses over 3 years is a total of $120.00. That is not a type-o. It is “One hundred and twenty dollars”. Total. That includes factoring in the cost of the dart guns, the PZP, the adjutant to add to the PZP, the dart and the government permit required to administer the drug. This will all be privately funded as WHOAS has already committed to purchasing the dart guns and medication, and HAW (Help Alberta Wildies) is also doing fund raising to help with the cost of the PZP.

All this said – we are still waiting for the ESRD to acknowledge that is is a very viable, affordable and effective solution to managing the herds – if – and this is a VERY important “IF” – management is even deemed necessary.
Please – keep writing your MLA asking for accurate and consistent counts of your wild horses. Asking for answers to some very important questions that as of now they do not have answers to:

How many horses are truly living now on the Eastern Slopes west of Sundre? How many horses can the hectares of land out there support? What are the dynamics of the herds that are out there? How many Stallions? How many mares? How many Foals and what are their ages? What is the reproductive status of these herds?
Without answers to these questions – there can be no realistic, scientific or honest management. In fact – there can be no reason to even consider management at all.

Don’t stop writing – don’t stop talking. The time to help these horses is NOW.

Wild Horse Photography Sites

Below is a list of photography websites that are helping to record the Wild Horses of Alberta.  The intent is not to promote one site over another but to help consolidate all the sites.  If you know of any others feel free to comment with the link.

It should be noted that Facebook sites have not been included as not everyone has Facebook.

http://larrysemchuk.photoshelter.com/ – Larry Semchuk

http://www.wildhorsedigital.com/ – Bob Henderson

http://www.duanestarrphotography.com/ – Duane Starr

http://www.wildlife-expressions.com/ – Gilles Korent

http://www.michelekingphotography.com/home/ – Michelle King

http://www.maureenennsstudioltd.com/ – Maureen Enns

http://www.susanarmstrongphotography.com/ – Susan Armstrong

The Three Girls in a Truck

http://www.fotosbyfox.com/ - June
http://avanakenphotography.com/ - Audry
http://www.surelyadavisphoto.com/ - Shirley

http://www.mstevensphotography.ca/ – Mark Stevens

Letting your voice be heard!! Speaking out for the horses. Rallies in Calgary and Red Deer.

IMG_5731Supporters of the free-roaming wild horses of Alberta have held a couple of rallies so far this month attempting to get their voices heard about the current capture season and overall protecting the wild horses. There are two more rallies coming:

The next Rally will be held in Calgary, Alberta at McDougall Centre, – 455-6th St SW, this Saturday February 15th, 2014 at 1:00 pm

Another Rally will take place in Red Deer, Alberta at Red Deer City Hall – 914-48th Ave, Saturday, February 22, 2014 at 1:00pm.

Come Rally with us and make our voice HEARD. The one and only goal of our effort is to save the Wild Horses of Alberta.

This time why are we rallying?

We are concerned that NO count has been conducted since ……March of 2013 by ESRD after the flooding and record snow fall. We NEED an official recount!!!

We are concerned that scientific methods of population control are not being considered a viable solution.

We need answers regarding the steering committee and the interests that make decisions. We believe there to be a great conflict of interest here.

I believe we have been fair in the questions we have asked and we have a right to answers!

Our bottom line is: STOP THE CULL, COUNT THE HORSES!!!!!

Join in the rallies if you can. Continue to email and write the Premier. Especially contact your local MLA expressing your concerns and ask for honest answers and not just a vocalization of what ESRD wants them to say. Don’t give up the fight.

Sample Letter to writer.

As of today there has been no decision as to whether to hold a wild horse capture season. Licenses to horse trappers could be available anytime now by order of our Environment Minister, Diana McQueen. WHOAS has a foreboding feeling that this will happen.

We need your help now. Write a letter to Minister McQueen and to Premier Allison Redford, telling them that despite a couple of meetings with other stakeholders, there is still no scientific evidence that our free-roaming wild horses are negatively impacting the ecosystem of our eastern slopes.

Through your letter writing and email efforts to the government officials, you can help make a change. There was no capture season last year. Let them know you and your family and friends insist there is not another one this winter.

Do your part to save our wild horses now and for future generations. The future of our wild horses is at stake. Here are the contact addresses:

Premier Allison Redford
Legislature Office
307 Legislature Building
10800 – 97 Avenue
Edmonton, AB T5K 2B6

Diana McQueen
Minister of Environment & Sustainable Resource Development
Legislature Office
204 Legislature Building
10800 – 97 Avenue
Edmonton, AB T5K 2B6

Here is a sample letter you can use. Print or copy it, sign and mail it.

Dear Ms. McQueen,

As an Albertan and Canadian, I am distraught to learn that you could issue horse capture permits with the intent of removing several hundred head of our wild, free-roaming horses this coming winter. I find this appalling.

These beautiful animals have lived in small family herds for generations. They have been an integral part of Alberta’s heritage, its history and culture. I believe they deserve to live and be part of the whole ecosystem as it exists today in our Alberta foothills.

I understand that your department undertook a count of the horses last March and that 853 were reported in the vast area of the foothills from Kananaskis up to Hinton. I have also heard that the ESRD could issue up to 300 permits for the 2013-2014 season which would eradicate up to 30% of the wild horse population. Despite stakeholder meetings this fall, there seems to be no interest on your part to undertake any scientific research to determine how these wild horses fit into the whole ecosystem or determine what numbers could be sustained in this vast area. Why has this not been done?

I urge you to stop any further capture season. As the Premier has said in the past, “Albertans deserve to know that the species that call this province home today will still be here for future generations.”

Sincerely,

Time to start letter writing campaign again!

Recently, Bob Henderson attended a meeting with the SRD of all interested parties pertaining to the Wild Horses.  The likelihood of a Cull this year is very likely based ont he meeting.  It is again time to start a letter writing campaign and if you so choose phone campaign Below is an edited version of Bob’s description of the meeting:

I thought I would fill you all in on what happened at the last meeting in Red Deer on Oct 4, 2013 with the ESRD, SRI people and other stakeholders.

It does not look good for not having a capture season this year. Most of the other identified stakeholders are people representing groups that appear to have opinions against the wild horses. In this meeting we were divided into 3 groups with various parties in each one to decide on a short term strategy for this upcoming year. This is where the ESRD has convinced almost everyone that the number of wild horses is “mushrooming out of control” and unless something is done soon it will continue to get worse according to them. When it came down to whether or not to have a capture season, I, myself representing WHOAS, was the lone dissenter. I expressed our information about the low foal survival this year and few surviving yearlings in the herds that we have been following this summer. Even the aerial count done in March showed low yearling numbers with the herds. However, they still maintain that these numbers have shot up so dramatically that the integrity of the range is in jeopardy due to the horses.

As it is now the ESRD in assessing the available rangeland in the forestry allocates 50% for wildlife and 50% for cattle leaving nothing for the horses as they still consider them as not wildlife. Even though the grass is probably the most renewable resource out there, because the horses live on it year round, they say by springtime when the cattle are let loose, the horses have already degraded it. This is contrary to what I have observed and others who are out there, especially this year. Even in the real dry years I have not seen this. So using this “explosion” in numbers this is what they see as being getting worse in the future unless steps are taken immediately.

Dr. Edward Bork, from the University of Alberta, admitted more research had to be done and was amazed that ESRD has not taken all the data from the users (especially the timber companies) and matched up horse numbers and locations with the growing areas of cut blocks. It was fairly common, except for one or 2 people, that more research is required in order to come up with a long term management strategy. Another point that was brought up by him and the representative of the Alberta Wilderness Association was that one of the things that dramatically affect range degradation is bush encroachment which they feel is out of control due to nature events such as fire not being prevalent anymore. Still the horses get the blame?

One thing that Dr. Bork did bring up is a study that was never published by Barry Irvine out of the University of Alberta who studied the horses in the Hinton area. He stated that the horses had an extremely small effect on new seedling regeneration. We need to try and get our hands on this study or any others that have been done.

…Suggestions of even shooting the horses was made if enough aren’t caught during the trapping season to bring the numbers “down”. So narrow-minded is this guy that he only sees the horses as being the reason that hunting game numbers are decreasing dramatically. The mere mention of loss of habitat (logging), the increase in recreational use and the effect that cattle have on the range they refuse to even fathom.

…representative is that the wild horses carry Equine Infectious Anemia disease and that according to CFIA regulations any horse with this decease has to be destroyed. Again they don’t test for this and this is just his belief. Sick animals do not live long in the wild so I think again in my opinion this is just another fear mongering statement. However, this fear could work to our advantage in our efforts to go forward with a rescue and handling facility for the wild horses. The reason for this is that all caught horses could be tested because they cannot just go for slaughter and enter the food chain, no matter what, as they are now.

ESRD are saying that capture numbers to maintain the total numbers would be 30% of the total population (i.e., 300 horses out of their count of 1,000). Then except for myself most felt that there should be no sex or age separation of horses caught and that any horse entering a pen could be removed. They point out that in elk herds the best way to reduce numbers is to take the females out. But the horses aren’t wildlife!!!! The point of just concentrating on trouble areas with the bachelor herds was not accepted because it was deemed to be “too hard”.

This summarizes the results of this meeting. Going forward we definitely have to prove that the horse numbers are not increasing at an alarming rate and are out of control. Since then I have been trying to research pre-1993 (horse capture regulations introduced) numbers. A lot of the information I’m starting to find shows that numbers back in the ’50s to the ’70s exceeded today’s numbers and yet there wasn’t a problem that is perceived to be now. In the 1980′s it was the hunting and assault on the wild horses in the attempt to eliminate them that led the old-timers to lobby and get at least the current regulations put into effect. We really need to work on this point…

…I believe this is urgent as they are going to make a decision soon to issue permits. Ms. McQueen will be giving all this information and she will be the one who decides. Maybe we can still put public pressure on her.

Again I just point out that most of the groups and individuals who are negative about the horses are those who have a financial interest in their using the public lands that the wild horses call home.

We need to have our annual meeting to address all of this and decide on our next course of action. As soon as I receive the actual minutes from this past meeting, I will forward them on.

Bob