Horse News

Canadian Wild Horse Cull Lacks Supporting Scientific Evidence

By Julie Woodyer as published on

“Our friends to the North share the same struggles that we do in the lower 48.  Helping one another could reap great benefits for the horses.” ~ R.T.

Decision from Minister on 2016 Cull Imminent

Photo courtesy of WHOAS

A year-and-a-half long investigation and a review of the Alberta government’s assertions that wild horses are overpopulating the landscape and causing ecological damage has found no scientific evidence supporting those claims.

Zoocheck reviewed all publicly available materials, as well as substantial quantities of additional documentation, including letters, notes, reports and other materials, obtained through a multitude of provincial Freedom of Information requests. On-site visits were also made to observe free-roaming horses and their habitats. A technical review of the Alberta free-roaming (feral) horse management program was prepared by expert consultant biologist Wayne McCrory.

The expert report and other materials were forwarded to Environment and Parks Minister Shannon Phillips in December, 2015 to inform her 2016 capture permit decision-making process; the Minister’s decision is imminent.

“The report reveals that there is no science supporting the capture for ecological reasons of additional wild horses in Alberta. Furthermore, government officials are unable to point to any evidence of rangeland damage attributable to wild horses,” says Julie Woodyer, Campaign Director for Zoocheck.

Alberta Government representatives say they want to ensure that some wild horses remain on the landscape, but captures have continued in the absence of scientific justification for removals, and with no regard as to how many horses are necessary to ensure the genetic integrity of the free-roaming horse populations. According to the Alberta Government, there are now less than 800 free-roaming horses in all of Alberta, and they are fragmented into sub-populations, numbers that experts say are far too low.

Wild horse populations in other parts of Canada are protected, but Alberta’s wild horses are being managed toward extinction. They have already been nearly extirpated in the Brazeau Equine Zone due to government sanctioned captures,” Woodyer adds. “We hope the Minister will move this issue away from making a purely political decision to satisfy the small subset of ranchers who don’t want the horses, to what the information and science actually shows.”

Ecologist Report: Wild Horses Serve Useful Ecological Function

Renowned wild horse ecologist Craig Downer recently released his own expert report on the Alberta wild horse issue. Downer describes extensive damage by logging, oil and gas, ranching and other industries in the Alberta Foothills, and says that retaining healthy wild horse populations on the landscape is a key strategy to its recovery.

During his 12-day visit to the Alberta foothills, Downer conducted 38 ecological evaluations in various diverse types of habitat. He describes in detail severe damage from human activities, and outlines how horses assist in building healthy soil and dispersing more intact seeds from a greater variety of plants as compared to cattle. He recommends that wild horses who coevolved with the habitats they now live in be allowed to fill their ecological niche and play their natural role.

Zoocheck forwarded Downer’s report to Environment and Parks Minister Shannon Phillips in early January, 2016 to inform her 2016 capture permit decision-making process.

“Craig Downer’s new report provides critical information to help recover Alberta’s natural ecosystems and outlines why wild horses are an essential part of that recovery, something not previously considered in the horse management program,” says Julie Woodyer, Campaign Director for Zoocheck. “We hope that the Minister will consider the positive ecological role wild horses play in Alberta’s ecosystems, and seek to take a science-based approach to managing horses in Alberta to better rebuild natural ecosystems for future generations to enjoy.”

11 replies »

  1. Good Idea to join forces

    You should consider joining forces with the Ranchers and Farmers

    Even tho at times Wild Horses v Ranchers and their cattle for grazing

    If you can put that aside…

    All of you battle the same evil satan



  2. According to this documentary, the Wild Horse population data is derived from the ranchers?

    Only part of this video is about the Wild Horses and the volume is not too good, but it’s worth watching. Notice that the rancher that was interviewed refused to discuss Zoocheck

    W5 Alberta Wild Horse Documentary 2015

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m curious – watched both videos & 2/3 of the pictures from the second one show the horses where a forest has been clear cut! Seriously – is this the way they leave things after they take out the lumber? Really interesting interview by this reporter – he asks the tough questions! And the gal he interviewed had very few answers!

      Liked by 1 person

      • And why leave that much lumber just laying around? Seems like an awful waste! Oddly – there dont seem to be any cows in that area?? Not good grazing? If not – the horses seem to be doing very well!


    • You can see that the wildies didn’t do that damage. Now you know one of the culprits for the catastrophic flooding that happened in Southern Alberta in 2005, 2013 and to some extent, in 2014. Deforestation where it shouldn’t be happening.


  3. Canada is just as bad as the U.S . This really has to stop or all.
    these herds will be history.

    As far as the U.S. I’m glad to see that some of
    the wild horse orgs are joining together making a strong coalition. There needs to be a Class action lawsuit against the BLM for not complying with the 1971 wild horse and burro act. Also the unjustified , roundups ,slaughters , number counts manipulated to suit the BLMs agenda. Unsafe and unjusyified experimental spaying
    One can’t help but notice in the past 7 years since the OBama Administration the attacks on our wildlife have soared. Many species have been taken off the ESL Our public lands are leased to foreign countries, sacred lands are being mined by foreign countrie. National Forests in Northeastern Arizona has been Sold to a foreign country under the name of Earthworks who keep a low profile but their motto is to “control the overpopulation of trees in Arizona forests.” Our National Forests are being farmed out to foreign countries for lumber too

    Most of the environmental groups will agree the Obama Administration isn’t doing much to help with the wildlife situation. He did stop the XL pipeline so Canada can’t send their toxic sludge overour land. I’ll give him that. But wonder if there was some type of trade off made such as Canada being allowed to have special priveleges here for X amount of years.
    Our public lands are being leased and bought by foreign countries for them to mine, lumber and exploit our precious resources and sacred lands. What other country does that?
    What about Obama /allowing Russia to cone here and mine this a masdive plutonium mine?

    The huge oil spill in Our Yellowstone Natl. PARK by Canadians while drilling In our Yellowstone National Park.
    The new liberal Democrats aren’t like the ones in the past couple decades. They don’t seem as passionate about our wildlife…
    I really believe Pres. Kennedy was the last good Democrat.. He stood up against the Feds, the CiA, ,KGB. Remember his quote, “Ask not what your country can do for you…but what you can do for your country” Today our economy is being drained by over spending unemployment and entitlements. And when our economy is depressed the wildlife always suffers.
    The ones in power like our Secretary of Interior
    Sally Jewell ,who could end a lot of this abuse on our wildlife and public lands is like a “ghost” and is mismalfaence in her position. She is in charge of thousands of acres of our western states and we see what’s happening to them.
    PResident Obama urged Sally to take this position and she was paid 1,5 million to take that position and moved here from the U.K.
    if you read her bio you’ll see she is all about big oil, mining and lumbering. She caters to self serving lobbyists. Her Sage grouse Initiative program is a scam. I like birds but since when do birds take such a precedence over horses or wolves? Never heard of these birds till recently….and now they make such a huge deal about saving them.
    Meanwhile our wild horses and wolves are being slaughtered. Sally doesnt give a hoot about those birds Many of these birds were burned in Nevada Utah by “accidental ” fires and had to burn outon their own.. These birds are killed on these public lands by hunters. Huge areas of public lands are cleared of wild horses supposedly for these sage grouse then many of them are hunted and the land used by Ranchers who get all kinds of entitlements under this sage grouse inative program. What a crock that is
    Yez miss JEwell nreds to go back tot her U.K. she’s no better than SaLazar who knowingly allowed the Colorado herd of about 2000 wild horses to be sold to a kill buyer.
    Not sure who I’m voting for HAvent heard any of the candidates speak of our wildlife . Used to be a Democrat but turned Republican. The way i look at it…any one of those candidates would be far greater thst our current one in office.not sure on Trump PEople need to pay attention to whats happning and next election vote. so many spend so much time watching brain numbing reality shows and have their faces planted in their phones
    This is why I like this horses heart blog. Where there are LIKE minds..ones that care about our wild horses wildlife and are trying to do something about it.


  4. We truly need to join Forces across ALL of the borders. Wild Horses & Burros in the U.S., Canada’s Wild Horses, Australia’s Brumbies..they are all under attack. With the “global market”, it could well be that they are being attacked by the same corporate entities that wield so much influence over government decision makers. Horse slaughter is very much connected to all of it…ALL of it is connected.
    “They” are motivated by Profit
    Our Forces are motivated by Passion, and that can’t be stopped, stifled or even muffled. History has proven that again and again.


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