Alberta wild horses are being killed by natural predators sooner and quicker than past years, says the president of a Central Alberta organization.
The Help Alberta Wildies Society, which is based in Olds, aims to save and protect the free roaming wild horses with rare Spanish bloodlines throughout the Eastern Slopes of the Rocky Mountains.
Society president Darrell Glover stressed that he isn’t raising an alarm bell due to more wild horses being lost to start the year.
“It’s not that we’re concerned about a high level of predators. It’s just that for some reason this year, they seem to be catching more of the wild foals earlier on,” Glover explained.
“A lot of the mares that we’ve been following on our cameras are foaling and they’re losing their foals within two to three days. They seem very susceptible at that young age.”
Glover estimated that there has been roughly a 20 per cent increase in the loss of foals compared to same time last year.
“We are concerned about the overall health of the populations for the long term. As an example, from the aerial counts of wild horses conducted by the government over the past three years, we’re down 400 horses overall,” said Glover.
A recent video posted on the society’s Facebook page shows a bear chasing after wild horses. The video has amassed more than 200,000 views and nearly 7,000 reactions.
HAWS has picked up eight different bears on cameras in the last few weeks.
“Realistically, these bears, wolves, cougars and things like that, have been here for a long time. What we saw in that video happens out there every single day,” Glover said.
“It’s a matter of the fact that we have a lot more cameras out now and we’re catching some more opportunities where we can show what’s happening.”
Glover said he doesn’t want people to be concerned about the number of natural predators.
“We’ve got the same number of bears that we’ve had out there for years,” he said.
“With a bear, they don’t have babies every year like some animals. It’s every three years with them. For a grizzly bear cub to get up to adulthood, they stand a fairly serious plight in life as well.
“Coming out of five months of hibernation, they’re hungry and they’re going to be taking down any food they can through opportunistic things like wild horses sleeping or wild horses grazing. That makes it pretty easy for them to go after the young ones.”
HAWS was started in 2014 to disprove the notion that the wild horse population in the Rocky Mountain Foothills was skyrocketing due to them having no natural predators.
“It’s quite obvious through a sensational video that we showed, that they do have a natural predator. That was the purpose of that video,” Glover noted.