Alberta organization supports wild horses

When Darrell Glover began advocating for additional protections for wild horses in Alberta, there were still plans to eliminate populations altogether.

Eight years later, a provincial management plan is about to be finalized, with population allocations that the wild herd is not expected to touch for years.

“The pressure eased for the next few years until we saw a different trend develop,” Glover said. “So in the meantime, we’re quite happy as an advocacy group that the government is working with us and we’re really looking forward to seeing how that plays out over the next few years under this new plan.”

One of the first arguments against the persistence of horses was twofold – competition with native wildlife and grazing cattle. The province had divided available grazing capacity equally between the two – no allocation was made for horses.

Last year there were around 1,300 feral horses in the province, down from a recorded high of more than 1,700 in 2018.

“There’s been a steady decline in numbers since we’ve been monitoring,” says Glover.

“There was a very strong narrative that wild horses had no natural predators, so we took it upon ourselves to prove otherwise.”

But a network of trail cameras – 65 so far – have captured bears chasing and killing horses. Cougars and wolves also take regularly documented victims.

“We don’t consider any of these animals evil, they’re just bears, wolves and cougars and that’s what they do,” he says, adding that they all have a right to exist.

“Our mission is to monitor wild horse birth rates through mortality,” says Glover. He concentrates his considerable time and effort in the area just west of Sundre, where he rarely encounters a horse he doesn’t recognize.

Glover’s time on the pitch and his knack for documenting what happens there has led the 71-year-old to run a popular Facebook page with more than 280,000 followers from around the world.

“Most people who follow our page know these horses by name, and it’s really become a big club, a big fan club for these wild horses.”

According to the province, the majority of feral horses along the eastern slopes date back to the early 1900s. Population figures for last year have not yet been released by Alberta Environment and Parks.

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