Statistics that were released last week by the Alberta Ministry of Forestry, Parks, and Tourism stated that the wild horse population has skyrocketed and President of the Help Alberta Wildies Society (HAWS), an Alberta Wild Horse advocacy and watchdog organization Darrell R. Glover says that, that is just not the case.
"Natural predators like Grizzlies, black bears and wolves have kept the population in check. From 2018 to the present, the number of wild horses in the province has been static and actually is in decline."
According to the Canadian government’s 2023 census, the wild horse population in the Sundre EMZ which is the province’s largest, increased 51% from 642 to 969 over last year’s totals.
To estimate the number of wild horses residing in each zone, Alberta ‘s Ministry of Forestry, Parks, and Tourism (FPT) conducts an aerial count once a year. HAWS did their own independent parallel aerial count using the same flight pattern as the government.
"Our 2023 count that followed the same flight path used in 2022 by the government came up with 684, an increase of only 25 horses (4%) over the year before."
HAWS representatives met with government officials last week to challenge the FPT’s 2023 census figures and question the methodology used.
“We’re not disputing the fact that the larger the area surveyed the more likely more wild horses will be found, however, in order for such important research to be valid and statistically sound, there needs to be an “apples to apples."
Glover explains that you have to be constant every year in terms of what geographical areas are being measured and that you can’t change the parameters mid-stream, then suddenly claim there has been massive growth.
Glover notes his group did make some headway last week in their meeting with FPT’s Rangeland Director.
"“They did acknowledge to us they flew more miles in the Sundre zone in 2023 and also agreed they will share their intended flight paths with HAWS in advance starting in 2024 so that HAWS can conduct a parallel count."
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