Here is an update from our friends at Help Alberta Wildies (HAW):
OUR BATTLE WITH ESRD – Part 4
GONE TO GROUND
February 4, 2015, another cull of our majestic Alberta wildies was issued. Environment and Sustainable Resource Development’s (ESRD), Duncan MacDonnell, was asked how many horses could the rangeland support. He stated, “We don’t know how many horses is too many, just less than what there is now.” Attempts to contact any senior ESRD employee that day got the message …..”I am away from the office”….. Gone to Ground! Cowardly and contemptible are the words I come up with.
Newspaper releases showed up in the Calgary Herald, CTV News, and Global News announcing a cull of up to 60 wild horses in the Ghost Equine Zone of Alberta. All articles stated that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) would oversee the roundup and would be responsible for hiring the horse wranglers. Except, that wasn’t true. It turned out to be just another lie issued by ESRD to try and thwart the wildies advocates. I have to say, that if this was a scare tactic to try and prevent us from protecting our wildies, it didn’t work, but from the onset, it just didn’t ring true for me.
I made numerous phone calls to local Detachments, who in turn made numerous phone calls to other Members trying to find out the truth. None of the RCMP Members I spoke to seemed to know anything about being involved with the horse cull. I asked so many questions, that one Member called the RCMP Media personnel and I received a telephone call from Cpl. Franks to discuss the situation. Cpl. Franks stated that the RCMP were not involved in the cull, as they were not mandated to do so. A Canada-wide news release would be issued that day, Friday, February 5, 2015, retracting all previous newspaper articles, denying that the RCMP had anything to do with the cull or hiring horse wranglers. True to her word, those retractions appear in the evening papers.
I wrote to ESRD requesting immediate corrections in all the newspapers, but as usual, I never received a reply back. That prompted me to write to Justice Minister Jonathon Denis, requesting that he intervene, as it seemed ESRD was out of control.
Now, ESRD telling the General Public big whoppers, is nothing new. If you’ve been following from the beginning, you will be well aware that ESRD lies to the General Public just about any time it suits them. They’ve lied about the cull in 2014, and gave advance notice to a privileged few, prior to informing the General Public. They’ve lied about the number of wild horses on Public Lands. They’ve lied about the wild horses not having any predators. They’ve lied about the wild horses damaging the grasslands. They’ve lied about how fast the wild horses reproduce their numbers. They’ve lied about the wild horses having Equine Infectious Anemia. They’ve lied about the Alberta SPCA being on the Feral Horse Advisory Committee, and this year, 2015, the big whopper is, the RCMP involvement. That’s quite a list isn’t it?
Here’s one of the biggest whoppers of all. The wild horses are all formerly domesticated horses, non-native, feral, released in the early 1900’s, from logging operations, from the RCMP who helped settle the prairies, barnyard escapees, former pack string horses, with their halters on, and iron shoes intact.
Except, those horses would have been mares and GELDINGS, as stallions are far too difficult to work with, so there must have been an awful lot of immaculate conception going on for them to increase their numbers. Good Lord! There is ample proof that horses are native to North America, and as such they have a right to roam free and protected on our Public Lands.
Last year there was double dealing and backstabbing going on with WHOAS and ESRD, and this year there was double dealing and backstabbing going on with WHOAS, ESRD, and another group. This particular group was started by someone who seemed to be afraid that if the PZP vaccine was successful at controlling wildie numbers, that somehow it would then be tried on deer and elk, and he sure didn’t want that, as it would severely limited the animals he could kill for pleasure and sport. I can just imagine the meetings that took place, with big gelatinous bellies hanging over waistbands 3 sizes too small, and jiggling with guffaws. One good ole boy, butt-slapping another, and feeling so proud of themselves for coming up with a secret game plan to enable them to capture wildies and send them to slaughter. Now I’m pretty sure these good ole boys thought they were pulling a fast one on all the horse advocates working to save the wildies and keep them on Public Lands, but when you break it all down, the final picture is, these guys and ESRD want to send horses to slaughter. Their new plan was to appear to offer the horse advocates some of the things they wanted. They allowed a trial of the PZP Program, and they offered ALL captured horses to WHOAS to be adopted out. The undesirable older horses that WHOAS didn’t take, then went to auction and were made available to the General Public. If the General Public didn’t buy them, well, golly gee, they tried didn’t they, but HEY still too many horses out there destroying the rangeland, so sorry, we have to get them off of there. Before they did that however, here is what was done to the wild horses first.
They terrified them by chasing them down, and forced them into a small enclosure, so they could not run from danger. They separated family groups, separated mares from their foals and yearlings, forced them into trailers, confining them even more than the capture pens, and drove them several hours to the auction, where they would be auctioned off. Most of the mares were heavily pregnant, and last year one of the captured mares was under such stress, she aborted her 25 lb. fetus, became septic, and died a horrible death. This year, an entire herd of 11 was trapped. Those bloodlines are forever lost.
The trappers ran the herd from behind, through snow drifts and debris filled cutbacks, and corralled the foals, then used them to lure in the mares and stallion. Not satisfied with trapping this herd, they spotted another herd and went after them and managed to rope 2 young foals, and dragged them by their necks, into the capture pens. They were all loaded and shipped directly to the auction house. These good ole boys are not unique to Alberta, but we certainly seem to have the vast majority of them within our borders, and many of them sit on the one-sided, pro-slaughter, Feral Horse Advisory Committee, which is hand-picked by ESRD.
Let’s talk about another group that has Gone to Ground. WHOAS’ role in the original management program presented to ESRD, was to offer rescue to those horses that wandered onto private property, or foals that were found abandoned or otherwise in trouble. ESRD’s redrafted Memorandum of Understanding, signed by WHOAS, now made WHOAS a participator in the cull, and turned their rescue into a receiving and holding facility for culled horses. WHOAS became an enabler so that ESRD and the trappers could remove wildies from Public Lands, siphon off the undesirable older horses by taking them straight to auction, and then call WHOAS to come and pick up the young desirable ones, and take them to their holding facility. The young desirable wildies could easily be gentled and sold for a quick turn-around. Here’s another little “twist” in this arrangement. It was stated by one of WHOAS Administrators on their Facebook Page, that she thought it was time for some of the other groups who had been so vocal, to “put their money where thier (sic) mouth was” and step up and buy the undesirable older horses that WHOAS didn’t take. If the undesirable older horses did go to auction and were bought by kill buyers, somehow it was the General Public’s fault for failing to buy them.
WHOAS also signed on the dotted line and agreed to cull the wildies themselves, when ordered to do so by ESRD. I suppose the General Public will be blamed, yet again, if those wildies go to slaughter.
The General Public had no input on any of the above. We’ve made it clear, we want the horses to stay free and protected on our Public Lands. We never agreed to have any wildies removed from their birthright while the PZP trial was going on. The PZP trial was offered as an alternative to captures and culls, not double the number of horses being removed. Certainly, no one was consulted, or agreed to, putting WHOAS in charge of anything. Anyone who promotes and assists in removing the wildies from their rightful place on our Public Lands, as WHOAS is now doing, does not have the wildies best interests foremost.
Now any questions put to WHOAS, as to why they were assisting in the removal of our wildies from Public Lands, were immediately deleted from their Facebook Page, and those people blocked. Gone to Ground.
There are only around 850 wildies left on a vast area of 2.2 million acres. On this vast area of 2.2 million acres, cattle ranchers, who have Government issued grazing permits allowing them to make money off our Public Lands, are allowed to graze 240,000 head of cattle. The ratio of horses to cattle is 1:283. Arguments in favor of the cattle are: the cattle are only allowed to graze for a few months of the year and are pulled in the winter, while the wildies are out year round; the wildies are out damaging early spring grass, whereas cattle are put out after the spring grass has time to grow and strengthen; the wildies damage the grass with their teeth, by ripping it out by the roots. Seriously?
If the horses, all 850 of them, damaged all the grass before the cattle got out there, then wouldn’t the grass disappear? If the horses, all 850 of them, ate all the grass before the cattle got out there, then wouldn’t the grass disappear?? If the horses, all 850 of them, damaged the grass with their teeth by ripping it out by the roots, then wouldn’t the grass disappear??? What exactly are all these 240,000 head of cattle eating if there is no grass, and why would the cattle ranchers put cattle out on a barren landscape, where they would surely starve? Should we talk about how 240,000 head of cattle can damage grasslands? Nah, probably not.
How about the forestry industry? Have you been out there and seen with your own eyes, the massive clear cuts and the devastation left behind from them? How about the spraying of Glyphosate? Sundre Forest Products, a Member of the Feral Horse Advisory Committee, use this herbicide to control undesirable vegetation hindering new tree growth. Should I mention that wind, drainage and snow melt can cause drift of herbicides into our watershed? Should I mention that deer, elk and moose, not to mention our wildies, are eating this herbicide treated grass? Should I mention how spraying with Glyphosate creates super weeds? Should we talk about how the forestry industry is damaging the grasslands? Nah, probably not.
How about all the campers and recreational vehicles? I’ve seen pictures posted of the mess and destruction left behind by holiday campers. Read story after story, of fields, forests and campgrounds covered with human feces, plastic bags, broken bottles, tin cans, and all other manner of garbage left behind to rot. The same can be said for ATV’s and motorbikes ripping up the ground, and polluting waterways. Should we talk about how these things damage the grasslands? Nah, probably not.
Time after time, lie after lie has been shown for what it is, and logical, factual information has been provided in its place. Time after time, logic and facts are ignored, and the wild horses are rounded up and sent to slaughter.
Time after time, the wildie advocates have tried to present humane management plans to deal with wildie numbers, but no matter what is put forward, and no matter what seems to be agreed to between advocates and ESRD, the wild horses are rounded up and sent to slaughter.
It was stated outright in 2014 by Don Livingston of ESRD, …..”The grasslands are 50% for cattle and 50% for wildlife”…. There you have it in a nutshell.
This year’s cull was supposed to end on February 28, 2015. Here it is March 2, 2015, foaling season for the wildies, and the roundups are continuing. The wranglers have been videoed chasing down the last horse standing on the Wigwam. It was chased at a full gallop, through a cutback of downed trees and logging debris for over 10 minutes, while the wranglers tried to lasso it. The horse ran into the forest with the wranglers in hot pursuit and disappeared from sight. On Sunday, March 1, 2015, a very young wildie stud, was dropped off at the auction with what appeared to be rope burns around his neck.
Several horse advocates have been camping out and sleeping in their cars, keeping a watchful eye on the unnecessary and inhumane treatment our wildies are being forced to endure.
In 1993, our glorious Government took the wildies into their jurisdiction to protect the horses from being run down “cowboy” style. The following Regulation was enacted:
ALBERTA REGULATION 59/94
Stray Animals Act
HORSE CAPTURE REGULATION
7(1) A licence holder shall not use a snare, weapon or vehicle to capture or attempt to capture a horse.
(2) In this section,
(a) “snare” means a device that consists of or includes a cable, rope, wire or other form of material and that is used or set to capture a horse by tightening a loop around the neck, foot or leg, with the energy to tighten it coming from the horse or from a spring, triggering device or other mechanism;
(b) “vehicle” means a motorized device, including a boat or aircraft, in or by which a person or thing may be transported;
(c) “weapon” means a firearm or other projectile propelling device used to frighten, injure or kill.
AR 59/94 s7;5/2008
The video was sent to Minister Kyle Fawcett, ESRD, demanding that he immediately put a stop to this inhumane and cruel treatment, and uphold the Government’s own Regulation, but the Minister chose to ignore it.
Complaints were made to Alberta SPCA, regarding the young foals that were chased, separated from their mothers, and dragged by their necks into capture pens. Complaints were made to Alberta SPCA regarding the heavily pregnant mares that were being chased for miles and driven into the capture pens. Telephone calls to ESRD went straight to message, and were not returned. Emails and letters were sent to ESRD, and were ignored. This Ministry and the Alberta Government are a total disgrace.
In 1994, ESRD issued a complete cull of the 1200 wild horses on the Suffield Military Base. Only approximately 200 were rescued by private citizens to preserve the bloodlines, with the remaining 1000 going to slaughter. It seems they intend to do this again with the few remaining Alberta wildies left on Public Lands. Round them up, and send them to slaughter, because we all know NO ONE, andNOTHING, causes damage to our Public Lands EXCPET those 850 wild horses (sarcasm intended!).
If you find this as offensive as I do, you can contact ESRD at…..oh, gee willikers, I forgot…..”I am away from the office”….. Gone to Ground.
ESRD Contact Information:
Minister Kyle Fawcett323 Legislature Building10800 97 AvenueEdmonton, ABCanada T5K 2B6Phone: (780) 427-2391Email: ESRD.Minister@gov.ab.ca
Deputy Minister Bill WerryEnvironment and SustainableResource Development915 – 108 StreetEdmonton, ABT5K 2G8Phone (780) 427-1799
Shannon Flint, AssistantDeputy Minister Policy Div.Environment and SustainableResource Development 11th Fl. Petroleum Plaza St.
Helen Newsham Section HeadRangeland Integration SectionEnvironment and SustainableResource Development4th Fl. Great West Life Bldg.9920 – 108 StreetEdmonton, AB
Phone: (780) 427-4764
March 17, 2015