Webinar - Recent Insights Into the Ecology of Feral Horses of the Alberta Foothills

Philip McLoughlin
Resource Date:

In the foothills of the Rocky Mountains of Alberta, Canada, increasing socio-political conflict regarding feral horse management and significance of the ecological role now being played by horses highlights a growing need for baseline research and data-based management options. Since 2018, we have been conducting an independent project with the goal of assessing several key aspects of feral horse ecology in this system. Using data from GPS-tracked horses and a large, 130-camera trap grid, we can now detail results of our assessment of key population characteristics within the Sundre equine management zone (EMZ). This includes social and spatial characteristics; and parameters such as density and total abundance trends of the population of horses using space-to-event density models from camera-trapping data. Further, we assessed habitat selection of feral horses with respect to key landscape and vegetation characteristics using GPS telemetry data; and compared summer occupancy of feral horses, cattle, and elk using camera-trap data. We discuss the management implications of our work and avenues for future research.