In the first of a two part exposé by investigative journalists from W5, it was revealed that Alberta’s previous Progressive Conservative government did not commission its own studies of wild horse populations, preferring instead to take ranchers’ analysis at face-value. When independent wildlife biologists and animal advocates sought to review that evidence through freedom-of-information requests, the government and ranchers’ association denied access.
In studies that have suggested that there is damage to grasslands, these findings were observed in areas where access is shared by both horses and cattle, which are being grazed in orders of magnitude over that of horses in Alberta.
From the W5 article “Born Free”:
“There are now, by the government’s admittedly limited count, around 700 left to roam free in the province, 200 fewer than this time last year. A tough winter and the occasional predator took most of them, while government-licensed trappers took 50. Some of those were sent to a no-kill auction in Innisfail. The government doesn’t know what happened to the rest, as it doesn’t track the horses’ well-being after they’re captured.
The capture and cull has been happening regularly in Alberta, almost every year as the number of wild horses fluctuates.
Ranchers, particularly in the Rocky Mountain foothills of Central Alberta, collect evidence they then turn over to the government, which they claim shows wild horses are over-eating the grazing grasslands needed for domesticated cattle. But the reports are not routinely released to the public……”