More about the concerns of our friends, Help Alberta Wildies (HAW), are in the article below. If you missed the Wild Horse & Burro Radio show with Gail Fagan of HAW, you can listen to the archived show HERE.
The wild horse auction didn’t really have the fairy tale ending we are lead to believe, says wild horse advocate Darrell Glover.
The spokesperson for Help Alberta Wildies (HAW) said the wild horse capture program was unnecessary from the start and that not all the horses at the auction have a new home yet.
“We’re still pretty angry about the way it’s all going down and there were a lot of different smoke and mirrors provided at the auction,” said Glover. “There’s a lot of misinformation being spread about this whole issue and we’re hoping to get to the bottom of some of it.”
On Feb. 28, 17 wild horses were sold at the Innisfail Auction Market. In total, 43 were captured in February and 26 were taken by the Wild Horses of Alberta Society (WHOAS), said Duncan MacDonnell, public affairs officer for Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (ESRD).
The auction took in just under $12,000 and most of the horses went for between $600 and $800, said MacDonnell. A big stallion was the exception. It went for a little over $1,600, he believes.
MacDonnell, who went to the auction, said he was told it was the largest crowd ever at the market and that the auction market owner, Danny Daines, confirmed every horse was going to a home.
“There were a lot of young ranchers there and I guess they were looking to eject some of that wild genes into their domestic stock,” said MacDonnell.
“It worked out very well as far as I know so far,” said MacDonnell. “They have to be happy. All the horses went to homes and we were able to reduce that herd by 43 animals, which is a step forward. I hope we use the same approach when we do it again.”
WHOAS, dedicated to saving captured wild horses, had originally planned to take about 20 horses but made more corral space available to accommodate the additional six.
Glover, who also attended the auction, paints a different picture.
“I don’t think it was quite the Walt Disney ending that was portrayed by the auctioneers,” said Glover. “There are still horses as we speak that were left behind. They were purchased by one of the auction owners and now they’re trying to find homes for them and put them up for sale again at $500 a piece after the auction was all finished and WHOAS had already picked the ones they wanted.”
He also said more horses were being captured at the time of the auction.
“The mission in the beginning was to assure that all the wild horses captured would avoid the slaughterhouse so the fate for these particular horses now is still unclear. After the auction occurred approximately nine more horses showed up at the auction yard that were still being captured behind the scenes,” he said.
Glover continues to question the need for the capture program and claimed many were roped, not trapped, and that they have a 10-minute video footage of one such roping.
“We didn’t see too much to complain about as far as the traps went, other than the fact that a lot of the horses weren’t trapped, they were actually roped. To us that is a totally inhumane handling of a capture.”
“These wranglers have been well-known throughout Alberta to be roping and chasing down horses for years. So this time we actually got them on film and it’s disgusting.”
Above all, Glover said it simply wasn’t necessary.
“I think the auction was unnecessary because there shouldn’t have been a cull this year at all,” said Glover. “Last year was so devastating because of the harsh winter and the floods that we had and the horse population was reduced significantly by about 35 per cent. The reasons for the cull this year are totally unknown to us.”
In November, WHOAS entered into a five-year agreement with ESRD to manage an adoption program and to head up a mare contraceptive trial program utilizing porcine zone pellucide (PZP).
WHOAS is on record as being opposed to this winter’s capture program but are also committed to doing everything possible to protect, rescue and save wild horses.
Besides keeping track of the contraceptive program, ESRD will doing a wild horse population count in the spring and that will have an impact on what happens next.
“We’ll reassess (the situation) once we have the count,” said MacDonnell. “Animal management is a year-round thing so I’m sure we’ll revisit it soon enough, but for now it’s a good ending and we move on.”