Monday, February 25, 2013

Part 4: Alberta Canada Wild Horses Challenge Painting #383

Alberta's Wild Horses vs Natural Resource Industries

The Bay Stallion
Alberta Wild Horse
5 by 7 inches Watercolor
by Linda L Martin Artist

The wild horses of Alberta once numbered around 5,000.  Today their numbers are around 200. A group of concerned Canadian Citizens are working tirelessly to save these magnificent horses. Some of the challenges of these wild horses are the same as their cousins the mustangs in the South. Although mixed of the same blood of Spanish stock and  local releases throughout the years, The Wild Horses of Alberta  are also most probably of mixed ancient blood as well.

One thing these beautiful Heritage horses have that most  of , that the wild ones don’t in the USA, is that there is for most of the year plenty of rain and plenty of food. This means  lush green grass most of the year. Because they are forest horses, the Alberta horses also have the protected cover of the fir and lodge pole pines to protect them from fierce Canadian storms and the heat of the summer.

This beautiful bay stallion, with his
two mares and foals grazed in
the right-of-way around the natural
gas  pipeline. The area is frequently
mowed  by Shell Canada to keep the
sapling trees from interfering with
the lines. It also promotes new growth
of the grasses around the pipe line that
draw wild horses and other grazing
wildlife into the areas.  Shell Canada
posts the signs to keep people from
being harmed in case of a gas leak.
Click the image to view larger.
However, this pristine forest and grazing land is also providing competition for these wild horses. Natural gas wells and  pipelines crisscross their range. While providing additional opportunities for grazing in the right of ways around the pipelines it also puts the horses and other wildlife in danger should the lines spring a leak and release the highly toxic  natural gas into the environment.

The horses are also in competition and danger  with logging enterprises that move in for clear cutting. In a way, some of these primeval forests' very survival is dependent on the horses’ survival. The survival of the horses is dependent on the protection of a government who is undecided as to their importance. 

Up until this year anyone who could apply and be approved, was granted a permit to remove a set number of horses via live trapping. Once they were removed the horses could be sold at auction, or taken home to train, use or sell.

The Bay Stallion's Bay mare
and young foal race along the
grassy area under the Natural
Gas Pipeline.  Click the image
to view larger.

Unfortunately for the Alberta horses, a good many of those captured were shipped directly to auctions, untrained and unhandled, where it is believed, (and documented by some), that the horses perished or disappeared in to the slaughter pipeline. Sadly for the Alberta horses, they were valuable targets for slaughter for human consumption in Asia and Europe, because they were raised on prime grasslands and had never been medicated.

Thankfully, I was informed, just this month the Canadian Government has put a hold on all trapping permits for 2013, until further notice.

In the mean time, there are a number of people who are petitioning the government of Canada to make the Wild Horses of Alberta a legal Heritage Herd and protect them from further decimation. There is grave concern that if the capture and removal of the horses is not stopped permanently that any connection to ancient bloodlines will be lost forever.

The group is known as Wild Horses of Alberta Society
If  you are from Canada please contact them to see how you can help restore and protect these beautiful wild animals. Their page can be found on Facebook:

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