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Wednesday, 21 November 2012 15:45

Writer opposes wild horse slaughter in Alberta

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Editor:
I wholeheartedly support the objections raised by Mr. Krejci and Ms. MacKenzie in the letter, and am glad they publicly shared their concerns. I’m afraid these cullings may eventually lead to the eradication of wild horses in Alberta.


I strongly object to the out-dated methods used to reduce and control the numbers of the wild horse herds in Alberta. There are better, more humane methods available, as are used in the United States today.
The Bureau of Land Management routinely injects wild mares with PZP, (porcine zona pellucida), a contraceptive administered by a device similar to a dart gun. This product is manufactured in Canada. Studies on the wild pony herds of Assateague Island, commencing in 1988, found that by 1994, population growth had stabilized. More information regarding this method of population control can be easily obtained through USGS (United States Geological Survey, Fort Collins Science Center.)
As a native-born Albertan, an avid horse-lover, and a lover of the early history of the West in Alberta, I feel proud of the fact that in spite of being shot at, rounded up and sold for meat, and harassed by man in other ways, some wild horses still range in some of the more remote, vast regions of Alberta.
I feel this is as it should be.
The contribution made by the horse during the early years this province was being settled should not be forgotten and buried in the past.
It was interesting to learn through readings on the history of Alberta, that the Royal Northwest Mounted Police reverted to use of the wiry little western mustang, as they had the stamina and endurance which was necessary to carry men over the large regions they had to patrol. The horse has played a major role in the settlement and development of this province. How could it have taken place without them? They are certainly part of our Western Heritage, and should be recognized as such.
The issue of the horse being a feral animal, as opposed to an indigenous species, is open to debate. Famed explorer William Clark’s 1807 expedition to “Big Bone Lick,” in Boone County, Kentucky, found “leg and foot bones of the horses.”
These, and other fossils, were sent to Thomas Jefferson, and anatomist Caspar Wistar evaluated them. Charles Darwin was “filled with astonishment” to discover a horse’s tooth in the same stratum as fossil remains of a giant armadillo. It has been established that modern horses’ ancestors were, indeed, indigenous to North America, but were wiped out due to a combination of environmental change, and overexploitation by the newly arrived Clovis culture. Therefore, the argument that horses are an introduced species, and, as such, should be given ‘feral’ status, rather than ‘indigenous’ status, holds no water.
The horse played a vital role in the history of this great province.
The existing wild herds, with desirable population control as proposed in this letter, and as part of our Alberta Heritage, should remain unmolested by man, and even protected, on the ranges he currently occupies.
Jean Brower, Nanton, Alta.

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