Download all free or royalty-free photos and vectors. Photo by Duane Starr. There is also horse overpopulation in the United States, which has very little regulation over the price, management, and sale of the horses. There are less than 1,700 wild horses remaining in the foothills of Alberta. Those interested in capturing the horses have to apply for a $200 permit and maintain or rent their own pens. Close. Sign up to register with our website to be notified of all that is happening within our region. In February, when the capture season ramped up, dozens of protesters congregated outside Bradley’s gate. In North America, wild horses have been captured and tamed for centuries. Hundreds of years ago, when North America was first being settled, millions of Spanish mustangs and British thoroughbred horses were brought over to help. The wild horses of Alberta have earned their place as one of the star attractions in this pristine western wilderness. On Bradley’s property there are two horses in a pen, and Thiessen points out certain traits that qualifies them as wildies: they have evolved over time to survive in the bush, rather than bred to look good and for humans to ride. “At what point do they cease to become a wild animal and become a lab rat?” he says. A century later their ancestors remain. Our mission is to ensure the provision of all aspects of the conservation and humane treatment of free roaming horses in Alberta. But there’s still a problem: the horses must eat. In western Canada, a controversy brews once again over the capture and cull of herds of wild horses. Adoption fees in the U.S. are a little lower than $200, but private sales can net much more. Authorities are currently looking for a solution to appease both parties, including the use of hormonal birth control. They’ve actually been around for much longer than that, said Bob Henderson, president of the Wild Horses of Alberta Society (WHOAS), a 550-member group set up in 2001 to monitor and study wild horses, as well as to educate the public and lobby government for their protection. Our Charitable Registration Number is 86431 5288 RR0001. In total, Bradley and Thiessen—the only two people who applied for permits—caught 15 horses and one colt. It is located on Highway 41, approximately 120 km (75 mi) southeast of Medicine Hat. He is dismissive of his critics—“It’s middle-aged women and teenage girls”—and their motivations. First Nations in Alberta and British Columbia had obtained horses by the mid-1700s, and some of their stock probably formed the nuclei of the first wild horse herds in western Canada. Of no further use as technology advanced, they were let loose and became feral. “I can’t stand the rhetoric,” he says. As veterinary practitioners, animal welfare is always our primary concern, whether it is the health and welfare of a single animal or that of an entire ecosystem. Wild horse rescued from bog in Alberta. Batch Download Slideshow. It’s unlikely that today’s wild horses are true descendants of those original wildies—in the 1970s, it was estimated that less than 1,000 of the current wild horse population were truly “wild.” Instead, they are a mixture of domesticated, work, and outfitter horses that had, at some point, been set free and managed to survive. Considering the majestic sight of a band of horses stampeding across rolling hills at the foot of a mountain, the opposition is understandable. Some argue they harm the environment and without natural predators, should be removed. The Wild Horses of Alberta Society is a charitable organization that relies on your donations. The cab of Thiessen’s truck is dusty, the floor covered in grass and wheat. Donate now! Wild horse herds of the Alberta Foothills. Photo by: Kevin M. Klerks It’s unlikely that today’s wild horses are true descendants of those original wildies—in the 1970s, it was estimated that less than 1,000 of the current wild horse population were truly “wild.” He would head out to the pen early at dawn and load any caught horses into a trailer, a slow and steady process that could take hours. Thiessen was considering keeping and taming one for himself, and Bradley hung on to the colt he had kept in his pen. The solution has been a controlled capture season, set by the Government of Alberta’s Environment and Sustainable Resources Development (ESRD) department. HAWS and WHOAS used to work … We quietly got out of the truck, stepping through thick brush to get a better view, but keeping a respectful distance. WATCH: A Calgary-area horse sanctuary … Every few years, as political tides and public perception change, wild horses come back into the Albertan conscience. Many ran free. This land that they are driving through—Bradley on his tractor, Thiessen following in his truck—is wild horse country. Dec 22, 2013 - Run wild, run free. I first heard about Alberta’s wild horses 20 years ago. Horses! ‘Horses’! We quietly got out of the truck, stepping through thick brush to get a better view, but keeping a respectful distance. Thiessen is skeptical. Sable Island, Nova Scotia [Photo credit: Instagram/@sableislandwildhorses] We pride ourselves on horse culture,” said one, to the national Globe and Mail newspaper. The controversy has mirrored some of the same debates in the U.S., where the number of wild horses is much larger, and the Bureau of Land Management alone is responsible for capturing and adopting them out. Photo about Wild horses, a pinto mare and a white foal in the wilderness of northern Alberta, Canada. The question was whether the province should even “manage” them at all. They are wild by nature, but they are not technically remnants of an earlier time. Comments on the WHOAS blog accuse him of having too much influence on government decision-making, that his voice is too loud during the annual consultation process. Thiessen resents the emotional tone of the protestors’ fawning over the wildies. Volunteers quietly track throngs of wild horses through the rugged mountain passes of western Alberta. The wild horses of Alberta’s eastern slopes are remnants of an era when horses were used for logging and hunting. The French brought horses with them when they colonized eastern Canada in the mid-1600s. Donate now! Wild Horse is an unincorporated community in southern Alberta within Cypress County, Canada on the Canada–United States border. Three mares and a stallion with a twig stuck in his forelock. Much of the debate surrounding wild horses lies in the language. But recently, the two are on a common mission, one that has made them controversial throughout this land: to set up a large capture pen, big enough for three or four full-grown horses and maybe a couple of colts, that they will use to catch wild horses. Donations suggested. Volunteers quietly track throngs of wild horses through the rugged mountain passes of western Alberta. Specifically, Wild Horses of Alberta Society (WHOAS) takes the majority of the horses from the round-up, gentles them, and offers them to the public to be functional members of a ranching operations or pets. Join our newsletter to get exclusives on where our correspondents travel, what they eat, where they stay. Free to sign up. A group of wild horses stands near a highway in Alberta on May 5, 2014. It’s estimated that there are over 15,000 wild horses in the U.S., with the vast majority living in Nevada. Bradley has had some interest from horse hobbyists in British Columbia and Manitoba who would like to buy the horses and the one filly he has also kept. Part 1 – In The Beginning; Part 2 – Betrayal, Backstabbing, Backroom Deals; Part 3 – Divide and Conquer; Part 4 – Gone To Ground; Part 5 – What Makes A Horse Worthy? Alberta’s wild horse population do not currently have any legal protection, because the government has deemed them to be feral rather than wild, as they are likely to be descendants from escaped or released domestic horses. Roughly a hundred people usually show up. The metal pen is a half hour ride from here, over hills and wetlands, deep in the foothills that face the mountains. Wild horses along David Thompson Highway 11 in Alberta. Thiessen and Bradley drive along a steep, potholed ridge to get to where Bradley has set up the six-foot high pen where he traps them. 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