Wild horses graze on the Eden Valley Reserve, Alta., on Aug. 25, 2011.
Providing a watchful eye – from capture to the Innisfail Auction Market – that’s the goal a group of Albertans during this year’s wild horse cull.
Alberta’s Environmental and Sustainable Resource Development department (ESRD) held the 2015 capturing season last month. The focus this year, according to their FAQ page was on “young males, considered the most appropriate for adoption.”
The ESRD said on its page it hires independent wranglers to lure ponies into baited corrals – which is where a group of horse-allies keep a watchful eye on the process.
Tucked away in the brush, a hand full of passionate activists with the group “Help Alberta Wildies,” camped out in cars to observe and document as 33 wild horses were captured in the Ghost River area west of Calgary.
“We were able to discover four of the capture sites this year,” said Shannon Mann, a backyard activist who works with Help Alberta Wildies. “As soon as we found them we went out to monitor.”
Mann had camped out in the frigid weather during the last cull, and said the temperature was a nice change, but what she and others saw while on their stake-outs was troubling.
Counting horses, inspecting structures used to corral them and even watching as wranglers rope horses into submission, Mann said they don’t interfere with the process, but feels her presence and watchful eye keeps the ESRD accountable.
Only 14 horses went to auction, the rest were snapped up by the Wild Horses of Alberta Society to adopt.
Mann said according to her numbers there were discrepancies in how many horses were captured and sold. Although the auction reported horses went to loving homes, when she attended the sale she saw ponies left out – adding although the market might have said so, it was not a “Walt Disney ending.”