Since 2002, Alberta’s wild horses have been picked off with brutal abandon. Who is responsible?
Written by KEVIN CHONG | The Walrus (Canada)
“The ravens are nature’s tattletales,” Bob Henderson tells me as we drive through the winter-parched foothills west of Sundre, Alberta. In December 2008, while leading a photographer through the area, he and his wife, Doreen, noticed a black cloud of birds farther up the road. They knew that another horse had been gunned down.
Some 300 free-ranging horses, possible descendants of domesticated animals used for logging a century ago, live in these foothills. Since 2002, at least thirty of them have been murdered with breathtaking cruelty. At each new killing, “Doreen bawls her eyes out,” says Bob, a retired Calgary police officer who with his wife co-founded the Wild Horses of Alberta Society after seeing a news report about one of the first horse slayings. “I get angry that someone would have so much contempt for nature.”
One of the more savage shootings took place in April 2009, when two colts and a pregnant mare were sprayed with gunfire. One colt was left to die slowly on his back. The slaughtered mare was found with the legs of her unborn foal poking out of her birth canal, not far from the Mountain Aire Lodge, a motel and sprawling campground owned by the Mustard Seed, a Christian street ministry that works with Calgary’s homeless population.
The murders persisted throughout 2009, despite WHOAS’ best efforts, including a $25,000 reward, raised through donations, for information leading to an arrest. A Crime Stoppers re-enactment aired in August was followed within a month by a thirtieth dead horse. It was as if the killer or killers were taunting the RCMP.
Then, early this year, the Sundre RCMP detachment, acting on tips, made four arrests in connection with the killing of the pregnant mare. The accused include a thirteen-year-old boy who cannot be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act; Gary Cape, a thirty-five-year-old Calgarian; and Earl Anderson, forty, and Jason Nixon, twenty-nine, both of whom have been associated with the Mountain Aire Lodge. Read full article >>