New Rule Tightens Canadian Horse Slaughter Imports

Story by Pat Raia as published on The Horse

 “False documentation (has) been a proven fact for years, yet nothing is ever done about it…”

Beginning in March 31, all horses imported from the United States into horse processing plants in Canada must be held in U.S.-side feedlots for a minimum of six months. The regulation is intended to address food safety concerns expressed by European Union (EU) buyers.

While some equine welfare advocates hope the regulation will increase paperwork and decrease profits for exporters of horses into Canadian processing firms, others believe the rule won’t reduce the number of horses exported for processing every year.  

Under the new regulation, exporters must certify in writing that the U.S. horses exported into Canada for processing haven’t received any drugs within the prior 60 days. But said horse welfare advocate Jerry Finch, founder of Habitat for Horses, the horse-processing industry has long had a reputation for falsifying paperwork connected to exported horses.

 “False documentation (has) been a proven fact for years, yet nothing is ever done about it, so any such regulation is nothing more than a PR effort to make the consumer believe they are receiving the very best horsemeat available; like so much of the food supply, the image of wholesome, healthy, and safe food is a far cry from the reality,” said Finch. “The killer-buyers simply sign the form, the buyers for the slaughterhouse sign it, and done deal. A horse bought at the racetrack in Kentucky on Monday will still be in the food chain by Wednesday.”

The Canadian regulation mirrors one long in place at processing plants in Mexico, which did not eliminate the EU’s food safety concerns. After a 2014 audit, the EU’s Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) banned the sale of horsemeat processed in Mexico on grounds that exporters falsified processed animals’ medical and drug treatment records.

An uptick in sales to Russian and Chinese markets resulted, said horse processing proponent Dave Duquette. He expects the same after the Canadian rule become effective.

“All the ban did was up sales to Russia and China–and they don’t have the same welfare (regulations) as the EU or that we do,” Duquette said. “The regulation is a (horse) welfare issue, and it lessens the welfare of horses.”

Tom Lenz, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACT, said that an estimated 5 million horses are processed for human consumption worldwide each year.

“The last time I checked, China was processing roughly 2.5 million horses a year for food,” he said.

Meanwhile, the number of U.S. horses exported to both Mexico and Canada has stabilized between 130,000-150,000 per year, he said.

“I don’t see that changing much,” Lenz said.

In any case, Lenz said import/export rules won’t make tracking the number of U.S. horses exported for slaughter any easier in the future.

“It’s my understanding that starting this year the U.S. Department of Agriculture is no longer keeping track of the number of horses exported for slaughter,” Lenz said. “So, we really won’t know in the future if the numbers are increasing or decreasing no matter what regulations are established on either the Canadian or Mexican side.”

http://www.thehorse.com/articles/38935/new-rule-tightens-canadian-horse-processing-imports

Feel Good Sunday: Icy Roads Leave Semi Driver Stranded Overnight. But When He Looks out Window, He Spots Horse…

as published on Thoughtful Women

..warming hearts across the world.

Canadian winters can be harsh. Motorists can easily find themselves stranded on roadways, because of heavy snow and icy conditions. That’s exactly what happened to semi-truck driver Peter Douglas.

The Winnipeg driver was captured by highway cameras after getting stuck on highway 10 south of Brandon. Looking at the footage, it’s easy to see why; conditions were fierce.

He was forced to sleep in his cab overnight, hoping the weather would clear up by next morning. Instead, he woke up to find someone quite surprising knocking on his door.

Eighteen-year-old Eileen Eagle Bears was watching the traffic cams with her mother, when they spotted the stranded truck driver just over 3 miles from their home. She told herself if he was still there when she looked again in the morning, she wanted to help.

The next morning, Douglas was still stuck, so the teen got her horse, Mr. Smudge, and headed Douglas’ direction. The trip would be roughly one hour in the cold.

“There was a lot of ice on the road from the rain that we had got and drifts were bad in a few places,” Eagle Bears told CBC News.

Imagine Douglas’ surprise when he awoke to see a young woman, her horse, and a thermos filled with hot coffee outside his window. A gesture those same highway cameras caught on video.

“She had to walk that horse half a mile up that hill and half a mile down because it was so icy. Blew me away,” said Douglas to CTV News. “She said she saw me on the camera. Her and her family were watching.”

Douglas was so grateful for her kind gesture, and she promised him that if he were still stuck there later in the day, she would return with a hot meal. “He was just really glad that someone knew that he was there and that someone cared,” said Eagle Bears.

She did, in fact, return later that evening with another thermos. This time it was filled with stew and potatoes. She also brought him water.

“I thought he would be getting pretty hungry, and that’s not a good feeling, I just put on extra clothes and did what I promised I would,” Eagle Bears stated. What an amazing young woman!

Douglas was stuck there for a total of 28 hours before finally being towed and able to get safely back on the road to finish his work. He still has Eagle Bears thermoses and plans to return them on his next run through the area…(CONTINUED)

http://www.liftable.com/keeleybrooks/icy-roads-leave-semi-driver-stranded-overnight-but-when-he-looks-out-window-he-spots-horse/

New Requirements for Export of Horse Meat to the EU Now in Effect

Published on The Canadian Food Inspection Agency Website

“Horses should not be shipping straight to Canada to slaughter any longer, without residing in Canada for 6 months…”

March 1, 2017: The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is reminding industry that the European Union (EU) has implemented a six month residency requirement for horses imported into Canada effective today.

According to new requirements, Canadian establishments that export horse meat to the EU must make sure that horses imported into Canada are resident in Canada for six months before slaughter and export.

The CFIA will only provide certificates for the export of horse meat to the EU that meet the EU‘s new six month residency requirement.

This new requirement does not impact food safety. It is mandatory for every horse (domestic or imported) presented for slaughter in a Canadian federally registered equine facility to have a record of all vaccinations and medications given in the previous six months. This is referred to as the Equine Information Document.

Associated Links

http://defendhorsescanada.org/

New EU Regulations May Destroy Canadian Horse Slaughter Scourge

published on News of the Horse

“In 2015, 44,730 horses were exported to Canada from the United States for slaughter…”

The European Union has issued new guidelines for the Canadian horse slaughter industry that many believe will devastate the industry.  Starting March, 2017, all horses must remain in Canada at a feedlot for 6 months prior to being slaughtered if the meat is to be sold to Europe.  The EU states the holding time is crucial as North American horses receive drugs not approved for use in meat destined for humans.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency confirmed the ruling with reporters.  “(CFIA) received a letter from the European Commission on Sept. 28, 2016, advising Canada that the European Union is implementing six months residency requirements.  Effective Feb. 28, 2017, the CFIA will only provide certificates for the export of horse meat to the European Union that meet the EU’s new six month residency requirement.”

The Canadian government has been working with the industry since receiving notification of the new requirements.  “The government understands the serious impact the EU measure of a 180-day holding period will have on exports. In 2015, Canada exported $36.8 million of horse meat to the EU,” the CFIA told reporters.

In 2015, 44,730 horses were exported to Canada from the United States for slaughter.  By contrast,  nearly 85,000 were shipped to Mexico for slaughter.  Animal welfare activists worry that with the Canadian horse slaughter industry under such tight restrictions by the EU, more horses will be shipped to Mexico, where the slaughter industry is largely unregulated and less humane than Canada.

Calgary Stampede: Torturing Cows and Horses is Wrong, Outdated and Illegal

OpEd by CAMILLE LABCHUK as published on The Globe and Mail

“…seeing animals perform tricks isn’t worth forcing them to endure suffering, and even death…”

There’s little doubt that using animals for entertainment is rapidly becoming unacceptable. Shifting public perceptions first forced Ringling Brothers to retire elephants from circuses, and soon after compelled SeaWorld to end its orca shows.

The fleeting entertainment we may experience at seeing animals perform tricks isn’t worth forcing them to endure suffering, and even death. I predict that rodeo events will be the next spectacle of suffering to become socially unacceptable.

ChuckwagonCrashThe Calgary Stampede has become synonymous with the trauma and violence of rodeo events. Starting this weekend, rodeo competitors will face off in nine separate event categories, including calf roping, steer wrestling, bronco riding, and chuckwagon racing.

The details vary, but all rodeo events have a few common threads: Animals are goaded into running and bucking through fear and physical pain, they are often lassoed, wrestled or roped to the ground, and the unwilling animal participants experience significant suffering, injuries, and sometimes death.

Chuckwagon racing is by far the most deadly spectacle for animals, with multiple horses killed in the event nearly every year. In fact, more than half of the 94 animals killed in the Stampede since 1986 were horses forced to compete in chuckwagon races.

(This death figure merely scratches the surface; it doesn’t include injuries, nor does it include animals killed in competitors’ year-round rodeo practice sessions.)

But perhaps even worse than physical trauma is the terror these animals endure. Dictionaries define a “stampede” as a sudden rush of frightened or panicked animals, which is fitting. Cattle, calves, and horses are prey animals, conditioned to be nervous, flighty, and hyper-alert to protect themselves from predators.

According to renowned animal behaviourist Dr. Temple Grandin, fear is the most difficult emotion for these sensitive animals, and psychological suffering may be even more unbearable for them than physical pain.

Rodeo events couldn’t exist without inflicting distress: Animals don’t run because they want to; they run because they are afraid.

Inflicting this pain and fear is arguably illegal. Alberta law prohibits causing distress to an animal, and there’s little question that steers wrestled to the ground, baby calves who are brutally roped around the neck, and the horses who predictably die in chuckwagon races experience distress.

Yet the Calgary Humane Society, tasked with enforcing animal protection laws, has so far refused to lay charges even in the most extreme cases of abuse, injuries, and deaths in rodeo events. A competitor disqualified in 2015 for excessive horse whipping faced no legal sanction; nor were charges laid after a bull was repeatedly kicked in the head in 2013 to force him to perform.

You can bet that if cats and dogs were subjected to rodeo practices simply for our amusement, animal cruelty charges would be laid without delay.

The Stampede admitted last year that it’s not proud of its record after four horses died in chuckwagon races, and event officials can no longer hide from the public’s legitimate concerns…(CONTINUED)

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/calgary-stampede-torturing-cows-and-horses-is-wrong-outdated-and-illegal/article30788704/

Ask Atlas Air to End the Shipment of Live Horses for Slaughter

Source: Canadian Horse Defence Coalition

“Please Help Us Stop this Useless Suffering…”

We don’t know whether Ambassador was born in Canada or the United States.  What we do know is that he was shipped by air to Japan for slaughter earlier this year.

Like all foals, his life began in the tender care of his mother whose protective instincts would have prompted her to do anything to protect her baby.  His soft ears perked up at the sound of his mother’s nicker as she tenderly encouraged him to stand and wobble about for the first time.  Hungrily, he guzzled her rich, warm milk.  He loved the spring sun on his back and the wind stirring his short, infant mane as he learned to gallop.  With the passing months, he grew faster and stronger and was soon easily able to keep up with his mother as they cantered together.

Perhaps it is a good thing that Ambassador and his mother knew nothing about his future.

During the days they spent with each other, they didn’t know that his life was worth nothing more than the money his flesh would bring.  They didn’t know that Ambassador would eventually be transported to a quarantine feedlot and be shipped with other horses to a faraway country for the sake of being slaughtered and eaten.

Ambassador’s mother may well have suffered the same fate.

Every year, approximately 7000 horses are transported by air from Calgary and Winnipeg (Canada) to Japan.  These shipments are often conducted weekly, with up to three to four large horses crammed together in wooden crates with little room to move around, let alone lie down to rest.  No food or water is provided during the gruelling journey to another continent.  Canadian legislation permits horses to be transported without food and water for up to 36 hours.  Sometimes, due to flight delays, the 36-hour period is breached.  During one year alone, six horses died during transport, three perished as a result of a landing accident, and one horse was found upside down and dead in his crate.

Canadian legislation prohibits horses over 14 hands high (like Ambassador) to share a crate with other horses.  The law says they must be singly shipped.  Their heads must not touch the ceiling of the crate.  Horses must not be deprived of food and water for any longer than 36 hours.

The law says all of the above things.  But for reasons of profit, Canada ignores the law.

The carrier responsible for shipping these horses to their deaths is Atlas Air, Inc., based in Purchase, New York.

In Ambassador’s memory, we invite you to politely request that Atlas Air stop shipments of live horses for slaughter.

Links to supportive articles:

New footage of shipment of live draft horses arriving in Japan – https://canadianhorsedefencecoalition.wordpress.com/2015/07/12/never-before-released-video-footage-of-a-shipment-of-live-draft-horses-arriving-in-japan/

Footage from the Calgary, Canada airport from 2013 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=04S9Qt_mH5Y

Draft horse hitting the top of crate with his head – https://vimeo.com/130818790

Debate on live horse shipment: https://canadianhorsedefencecoalition.wordpress.com/2015/07/16/debating-the-live-draft-horse-shipments-on-ctvs-alberta-primetime/

CHDC Issues Press Release – https://canadianhorsedefencecoalition.wordpress.com/2015/06/25/chdc-issues-press-release-regarding-violations-with-live-horse-shipments-to-japan/

CHDC files complaint with CFIA:  https://canadianhorsedefencecoalition.wordpress.com/2012/11/12/we-file-a-complaint-with-the-cfia-and-transport-canada-about-the-live-horse-shipments-to-japan/

CFIA Failure to Enforce Regulations: https://canadianhorsedefencecoalition.wordpress.com/2012/10/18/news-release-cfia-fails-again-at-enforcing-regulations-for-live-horse-exports-to-japan/

We are petitioning:

Richard Broekman
Staff Vice President
Commercial Development and Charter Sales
Email: richard.broekman@atlasair.com
Phone: +1 914 701 8211
Mobile: +1 914 426 6900

Peter Beckett
Senior Director Charter Sales and Marketing
Email: peter.beckett@atlasair.com
Phone: +1 310 743 1042
Mobile: +1 914 318 3955

Jordan Frohlinger
Senior Manager Commercial Development, Sales and Marketing
jordan.frohlinger@atlasair.com
Phone: +1 914 701 8068
Mobile: +1 914 338 6108

Canada’s multi-million dollar horse meat industry might be on the verge of change

by as published on VueWeekly.com

“Horses should not be food animals, period…”

horse-meat-no-text-2Canada’s multi-million dollar horse meat industry has been described as a dirty little secret, though one that’s not been very well-kept given the regular cropping up of news stories in recent years. Canada slaughtered 66 651 horses in 2014, in five slaughter plants across the country (two of which are in Alberta). Nationally, Quebec is the biggest consumer of horse meat, though you can find it in small pockets throughout the country—typically in European delis;  the vast majority of Canada’s horse meat is exported to Europe. Statistics Canada reports that Canada’s total horse meat exports bring in roughly $80 million per year. (Comparatively, Canada’s beef exports for January to September 2015 alone were well over $1.6 billion.)

At first glance, the differing opinions on horse meat—companion animal or food source—seems to be nothing more than a clash of cultural values.

“It’s a culture thing; I’ve got people that have been eating it for 60, 70, 80 years,” says Dave van Leeuwen. “I’ve got older customers that grew up on this stuff, and sometimes I think there’s people just grabbing at things to get it off the market just because they don’t agree with it.”

Van Leeuwen owns Ben’s Meats and Deli, a local Dutch store that was founded by his grandfather in 1953. Like many Dutch individuals, he grew up eating horse meat: smoked, thin-sliced horse meat is a staple sandwich ingredient in the Netherlands. Van Leeuwen describes it as akin to prosciutto in the way that it’s prepared (cured and smoked, as opposed to cooked), though not in flavour; he describes the taste as very lean, rich and salty. Sliced horse lunch meat is van Leeuwen’s fourth-best-selling meat in the store; he sells about 60 to 65 pounds of it each month.

Critics of Canada’s horse slaughter acknowledge the horse’s position as a companion animal in our culture, but that’s actually not the first—or even second—argument against this practice. The main charge levied by critics against the horse meat industry is that it could contain traces of veterinary drugs that are unsafe for human consumption. The most common of these is phenylbutazone (PBZ), an anti-inflammatory colloquially called “bute.” PBZ is banned by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) as it can cause potentially fatal blood diseases in humans. While the CFIA claims that its personnel perform daily inspections in all federally registered meat establishments, and that they test horses regularly for PBZ, a European audit in 2014 caught Canadian horse meat tainted with traces of the drug. It’s not known how long PBZ stays in the horse’s system; a 2010 article published in the Food and Chemical Toxicology journal stated that traces of PBZ will remain in horse meat for a very long and undetermined period of time.

“Just about everybody who has a horse eventually gives their horse phenylbutazone,” Sinikka Crosland says. Crossland is the executive director of the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition (CHDC), a non-profit group she co-founded in 2004 with the goal of banning Canada’s horse-slaughter industry.

“It’s a drug that should not ever find its way into the food chain,” she explains. “Yet, at the same time, the Canadian government just turns a blind eye to the fact that a lot of these horses going through the system actually have very likely had bute at some point in their lives. … As far as we’re concerned, there’s no way to control that. Horses should not be food animals, period.”

All animals sold to slaughter houses must have documentation identifying their history of drug treatments, but Crosland notes that there are still large gaps in actually verifying this information and it only goes back 180 days. Further, a Global News story in March 2014 revealed that the CFIA only tests an average of 385 samples per year since 2010—less than 0.5 percent of the total horses slaughtered annually in Canada.

The humane aspect of the horse slaughter is also of significant concern to the CHDC.

“We think that it’s a horrifically inhumane industry,” Crosland says. “The undercover footage that we’ve looked at, year after year from various slaughterhouses in Canada, show that the horses suffer greatly when they’re in that kill box. … You see them shaking, a head-to-toe shake, and they’re trying to get out of that kill box; they’re rearing; they’re doing everything possible to try to defend themselves. They can smell the blood; they often don’t clean up between horses; they just pump them through.”

This stands in marked contrast to van Leeuwen’s view of these practices. He notes that he’s visited slaughterhouses before and that they strive to ensure the animals aren’t frightened, because it will negatively impact the quality of the meat.

“There’s something in beef called a dark cutter,” he explains. “It’s been traced back to something called pre-slaughter stress syndrome. If you put an animal in stress before it is killed, the meat can toughen up and it won’t go through rigor mortis process, and it won’t break down. They don’t want that, because it ruins the meat.”

However, van Leeuwen also acknowledges that in horse slaughter, as with any other industry, there will be both good and bad individuals, and that sometimes the proper practices may not always be followed.

One of the most overlooked aspects of Canada’s horse meat industry is the export of live horses to Japan. Raw horse sashimi is a delicacy in Japan, and live horses are sold on the Japanese market for a high price. To ensure the meat is as fresh as possible, these horses are shipped live via air freight, in conditions that Crosland describes as deplorable—they are overcrowded, sometimes three to four animals per wooden crate (when Canada’s own laws dictate only one per crate) and have food and water withheld for days (up to 36 hours within Canada’s borders, but once they hit international airspace, the clock resets). As reported by Statistics Canada, as of November 2014, Canada had shipped 6976 live horses to Japan, an increase of only five percent from 2013—though that number increased a whopping 560 percent between 2012 and 2013.

In May 2014, NDP member of parliament Alex Atamanenko introduced Bill C-571, which would amend the Meat Inspection Act to ban the slaughter of any horse without a medical record containing all treatments over the course of its lifetime. Effectively, this bill would end the slaughter of all horses not raised specifically for human consumption. The bill was voted down, though Crosland was heartened to see that the Liberal MPs voted unanimously in support of the bill. She is optimistic that with Canada’s recent change in government, passing similar legislation will soon be possible.

Even in the absence of any legislation against it, Canada’s horse-slaughter industry is in decline: the number of horses slaughtered has fallen each year since 2008, after a peak caused by a surge in live-horse imports after the US banned horse slaughter in 2007. The US ban was the result of ongoing lobbying by animal welfare groups as well as legal battles between municipalities and abattoirs, which resulted in the passing of legislation to prohibit the agriculture department from spending money on inspecting horse slaughter facilities, effectively killing the practice on American soil. (Over 60 percent of horses slaughtered in Canada are shipped from the US.) Horse meat is becoming harder to find: van Leeuwen used to carry a variety of different cuts like tenderloin and sirloin, but in 2015 only the smoked deli-style horse meat has been available.

Banning Canada’s horse slaughter is not at the top of the list of the legislation changes expected to be enacted by the new Liberal government. (Or, likely, even somewhere around the middle.) There is, however, a decent chance that significant changes to the horse meat industry will occur at some point in the next four years. The average Canadian will likely be unaffected, but it would set a significant legal precedent in our country and clear up a lot of the current ambiguities surrounding the horse-slaughter industry.

Before a total ban on horse slaughter arrives (if it ever does), Canada will most likely see legislation like Bill C-571, which would definitively determine what is now only circumspect, and the crux of the argument against eating horse meat as it exists today: whether the majority of slaughtered horses are byproducts of other industries (rodeos, racing, family pets) as the CHDC maintains—and therefore likely contaminated with PBZ—or whether most of them were already raised for food, as van Leeuwen believes. Given the US’s 2007 ban on horse slaughter, and the EU’s recent ban of horse meat imports from Mexico due to issues with traceability of veterinary records, the North American horse meat industry could potentially collapse. What this will entail on the world scene, however, is much less clear.

“What we sell in Canada is just a drop in the bucket,” van Leeuwen says. “I don’t see it disappearing, no. They have to do something with some of the animals. … I think there is an industry there.”

The CHDC has already considered this, however, and Crosland notes that they and other sympathetic groups would work to ensure all horses find a home in the event of a ban.

“People are always saying, ‘What’s going to happen; for the next 20 years the country’s going to be overrun with horses,’” she says. “No, that’s not going to happen. If slaughter were to end tomorrow, yes there would be lots of horses on the market, and everybody would be scrambling to figure out where those horses are going to go. But when you look at the big picture, overbreeding is the worst problem that adds to the horse population. … Responsibility suddenly would become a way of life in the horse industry.” 

Part 5 – What makes a horse worthy?

This us an update on the Wildies in Canada.

wildies121-300x221

SOURCE:  Our Alberta Wild Horses

There’s a question for you. What makes a horse worthy? There are as many different answers, as different people. Do they have to be pretty, or come from long established bloodlines? Do they have to be registered in some man established registry? Do they have to be warm bloods, or cold bloods, or hot bloods? Do they have to be fast, or slow, docile or spirited? Do they have to have big expressive gaits, or long wavy manes and tails with feathers around their feet? To me, they just have to be. That makes them worthy. They already all come from long established bloodlines, dating back millions of years. Long before you or I were here, and long before people started judging them as being worthy or not.

Help Alberta Wildies (HAW) has withdrawn from future participation in group advocacy. The reasons for doing this have not been disclosed publicly. HAW says it will continue to offer aerial support to wild horse advocates, when possible and required. HAW’s future support will be in the background and on a smaller scale.

HAW has recently released news that it has partnered with equine conservationist Victoria Tollman of Central Registry Service Group (CRSG), and Dr. Gus Cothran, from Texas A&M University. HAW intends to gather at least 100 samples of DNA from captured wildies to send to Dr. Cothran to determine the genetic heritage and uniqueness of the Alberta Wildies.

I commented on the HAW page that in order to get a true sampling of our wildies, samples should be taken from all 6 Equine Zones and from as many different horses as possible, and not just from the captured wildies that are scattered throughout Alberta. Most of those horses are from the Sundre Zone and are probably related. The wider the variance, the more accurate the test results will be. My comment generated a response from Dr. Jocelyn Poissant, informing me that his team was, in fact, doing just that.

Dr. Jocelyn Poissant, researcher of the University of Calgary is also collecting DNA samples from our Alberta Wildies. Dr. Poissant has also done genetic research on the Sable Island Horses. This is what was posted on the University of Calgary’s website:

• Dr. Poissant joined the HPI group as a post-doctoral fellow in July 2014. He is working under the supervision of Dr. John Gilleard in the Department of Comparative Biology and Experimental Medicine, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Calgary, and Dr. Philip McLoughlin in the Department of Biology at the University of Saskatchewan. Dr Poissant is originally from Montréal, where he obtained a B.Sc. in Ecology at the University of Québec at Montréal in 2000. He then obtained a M.Sc. from the University of Guelph in 2004 where he worked on brook trout landscape genetics and a Ph.D. from the University of Alberta in 2011 where he worked on bighorn sheep evolutionary quantitative genetics and genomics. He came to Calgary after spending 2 years at the University of Sheffield (UK) where he worked on great tit evolutionary genetics as an NSERC and Marie Curie postdoctoral fellow. Dr. Poissant is supported in part by NSERC CREATE HPI.

• Dr. Poissant is an empirical evolutionary geneticist combining fieldwork with molecular and quantitative genetic approaches to understand how evolutionary forces such as natural and sexual selection interact with genetic variation to shape phenotypic diversity in wild vertebrate populations. His main research project, conducted in close collaboration with Dr. Philip McLoughlin from the University of Saskatchewan, focuses on the ecology, evolution and conservation of wild (feral) horses from Sable Island National Park Reserve in Nova Scotia.

• In the Gilleard’s lab, Dr. Poissant is developing molecular methods to characterize individual-level variation in gut nematode communities in horses (the equine ‘nemabiome’). These tools will then be applied in Sable Island horses to understand the impact of gut parasites on host health and life history in wild long-lived vertebrates.

Dr. Poissant’s research on the Sable Island Horses will be targeting projects concerning four inter-related themes of research. These themes address fundamental and applied projects on (I) Population ecology; (II) Inter-species interactions and community ecology; (III) Population genetics; and (IV) Parasitism, disease, and health of Sable Island horses.

There are many aspects to Dr. Poissant’s research regarding the Sable Island Horses. One of those aspects is the relationship between grey seals and the horses. Grey seals congregate on the tips of the Island to give birth to their pups. As a result of this congregation, the seals enrich the soil with nitrogen, which in turn feeds plant life, which in turn draws the horses. Horses then spread nitrogen throughout the Island with their droppings. If you remove one, does everything collapse or improve? Another aspect of this research is nematode related, or worm levels and their variations, and what effect, if any, does that have on the eco-system.

The Sable Island Horses are a unique herd, in that they are completely isolated, and they have received no medications. The last man-introduced horse to the Island was in 1935. Our Alberta Wildies differ considerably to the Sable Island Horses. According to Environment & Parks, all Alberta Wildies are domesticated escaped barnyard horses. Each and every wild horse on our Public Lands, were deemed unworthy of being kept by their owners, and when their use to their owners was over, they were thrown away in the wilderness of Alberta. This apparently occurred in the early 1900’s. All of these escapees and unworthy throw away horses would have therefore received medications. It will be interesting to see what difference there has been in the evolution of gut nematode communities between Sable Island Horses and our Alberta Wildies.

I, in no way, point any fingers at Dr. Poissant, the University of Calgary, or the University of Saskatchewan. Dr. Poissant is a researcher who has been carrying on these types of studies for many years. I do, however, point a finger at the other Partners of this study, and how they will use, or abuse, the information provided by Dr. Poissant, as it relates to our wild horses.

Those Partners are, the Alberta Conservation Association, whose Member organizations include the Alberta Fish & Game Association, the Alberta Trapper’s Association and the Alberta Professional Outfitters Society, two of them, members of the Feral Horse Advisory Committee, and all pro-slaughter, pro-cull wildies. Further Partners are, Agriculture Canada, Environment and Parks and WHOAS, also pro-slaughter or pro-cull. You will note, that I’ve included WHOAS in that statement. WHOAS actively and willingly participates in culls and has recently refused to take in a young mare from this year’s cull, after she became too much for her adopter to handle. WHOAS knew that she was destined for auction and slaughter, and did nothing to help the mare. WHOAS claim they cannot take in a horse that has been in contact with domesticated horses, due to the threat of disease to the wild horses at their adoption facility. WHOAS does not answer the question of why they take in dozens of wild horses that have been at the auction house, a well known hothouse of disease and parasite infections. I sure would like these people to get their stories straight!

Why would this mix of groups partner up, and why would they be interested in our wild horses? Could they be looking for a way to finally say the wild horses are “diseased” as they have so many times before, but this time, provide research data to try and give some justification for eradicating the wild horses? Certainly, no research data was needed, or provided in the past. Culls are issued simply to rid Alberta of any horses on Public Lands, claiming the wild horses damage the grasslands. All without any proof of such claim, of course.

All animals have worms. Deer, elk, moose, cattle, skunks, gophers, etc., but this particular study only focuses on the wild horses. It will be very interesting to see how the Partners of this study, use the information of genetics and parasite infestation. If their past performance is an indicator, my guess would be that this is the next round of the wildies are “infected” and have to be culled, or the world as we know it, will end.

All of this information, and how it is going to be used, just brings up more questions. My original question was, “What Makes A Horse Worthy?” I suppose I now have to add in, do genetics make a horse worthy? Does worming make a horse worthy? Do worms from our wild horses cause more disease or damage to animals and grasslands, than worms from all other animals? Those answers should be coming soon, and I suspect, to be used in conjunction with another cull of our Alberta Wild Horses.

Here’s another question. Does anyone see a conflict of interest here? If you do, contact Environment and Parks.

 

Minister Shannon Phillips
323 Legislature Building
10800 97 Avenue
Edmonton, AB
Canada T5K 2B6
Phone: (780) 427-2391
Email: AEP.Minister@gov.ab.ca
Deputy Minister Bill Werry
Environment and Parks
915 – 108 Street
Edmonton, AB
T5K 2G8
Phone (780) 427-1799
Email: bill.werry@gov.ab.ca
Shannon Flint, Assistant
Deputy Minister Policy Div.
Environment and Parks
11th Fl. Petroleum Plaza St.
9915 – 108 Street
Edmonton, AB
T5K 2G8
Phone: (780) 422-8463
Email: shannon.flint@gov.ab.ca
Helen Newsham Section Head
Rangeland Integration Section
Environment and Parks
4th Fl. Great West Life Bldg.
9920 – 108 Street
Edmonton, AB
T5K 2M4
Phone: (780) 427-4764
Email: helen.newsham@gov.ab.ca

 

July 17, 2015

Ongoing Regulation Violations and CFIA Whitewash Confirmed by Access to Information Documents on Air Transport of Horses for Slaughter

SOURCE: Canadian Horse Defence Coalition

ORANGEVILLE, ON, June 25, 2015 /CNW/ – The Canadian Horse Defence Coalition (CHDC) has discovered gruelling evidence of multiple horse deaths connected to air transport to Japan, and attempts by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to cover up the truth.

defendhorsescanada.orgAccess to Information (ATI) documents reveal that three horses died as a result of a landing accident and six horses perished in flight on August 1, 2012, “due to a combination of a substantial delay, the large size of the horses, and significant stress levels in the animals”.  However, a placating form letter dated November 2012, and later sent to inquiring members of the public, indicates that “the CFIA is not aware of any injury or undue suffering due to lack of segregation of horses over 14 hands in height.”

Further ATI findings include:  “…horses usually go down during take off and landing”, and one horse evidently died on a trip from Calgary and was found upside down in his crate.  Of ongoing concern has been breakage of the wooden crates, especially with stressed horses rearing up and falling against the crates’ wood strips covered in netting.  Past instructions from the CFIA to exporters have included repairing the broken shipping containers with duct tape.

The CHDC also notes that, in spite of lengthy debate within the agency concerning overloading the crates with four heavy horses, the practice is still continuing.  In fact, The Health of Animals Regulations stipulate that horses over 14 hands high (56″ high at the base of the neck) must be segregated for air transport, and they must be able to stand in a natural position, without coming into contact with a deck or roof.  Both laws are being broken on an ongoing basis, with the CFIA fully aware of this and, on horse shipment formwork, noting the segregation regulation under “Description of Non-Compliance“.  Further, for their own purposes, the agency has added wording to the Health of Animals Regulations that has not gone through official legal channels.

Attempts have been made by at least one agency official to install cameras in aircraft and to initiate a study regarding equine welfare associated with air transport.  Both proposals were turned down.  ATI findings indicate that the reason could have been “siding with exporters”.

CHDC Executive Director, Sinikka Crosland, states:  “In 2014, over 7,000 large draft horses shipped from Canada to Japan under these circumstances. It is clear that international trade and profit take precedence over animal welfare, possibly even human safety, and that the CFIA is turning a blind eye, circumventing laws and misleading the public.  We have strong evidence of the agency failing to follow its own regulations concerning the live transport of horses for meat, and even lying to the public to cover deviations from the law.”

The CHDC calls upon the Minister of International Trade, Hon. Edward Fast, and Bruce Archibald, President of the CFIA, to demand that the practice of sending horses overseas by air cargo for slaughter be stopped on humane and legal grounds.

ATI documents and video evidence can be found at this link: https://canadianhorsedefencecoalition.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/media_page_jun_2015.pdf.

SOURCE Canadian Horse Defence Coalition

For further information: Sinikka Crosland, Executive Director, Canadian Horse Defence Coalition, Phone: 250.681.1408, Email: info@defendhorsescanada.org

Ice age people hunted horse and camel 13,300 years ago

SOURCE:  phys.org

iceagepeople

Bones of a prehistoric horse found near a Canadian reservoir points to evidence that humans migrated to North America earlier than previously thought, according to a new study published today. Credit: Michael Waters

by Mike Waters

New research shows that prehistoric Ice-Age people hunted horse and camel 13,300 years ago in North America, much earlier than previously believed, according to a team of researchers led by a Texas A&M University anthropologist.

Mike Waters, who heads the Center for the Study of the First Americans at Texas A&M, and colleagues from the University of Calgary and Aarhus University in Denmark have had their work published in the current issue of PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Waters and the research team examined the skeletal remains of seven horses and one found in an area called Wally’s Beach, located about 80 miles south of Calgary in Canada. The rolling prairies of Central Canada were home to numerous types of animals early sought thousands of years ago. These animals were killed in a small area close to a spot where they could ford the river, Waters says.

Radiocarbon dating of the remains shows that they were killed 13,300 years ago, at least 300 years earlier than hunters were previously believed to have been in the region.

“Our study shows that these early hunters were in this area long before Clovis inhabited the region, which were once thought to be the first hunters in this part of the world,” Waters explains.

“This study adds more information about the earliest inhabitants of North America and the role human hunters played in the extinction of large mammals at the end of the last Ice-Age,” Waters says.

Ice age people hunted horse and camel 13,300 years ago
Core tool associated with the camel. Credit: Michael Waters

The team found only simple core tools and flakes at the site that were used to disarticulate the carcasses. No spear points were associated with the kill sites.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2015-03-ice-age-people-horse-camel.html#jCp