How long do you have to live in the Yukon before you are officially a Yukoner? One winter? Ten years? Do you have to be born here? Or be a second or third generation?
If we get to say who becomes a Yukoner after a certain period of time, then surely the same could be applied to Yukon animals.
Are we, as Yukoners, okay with the fact that our beautiful Yukon wild horses are not given that same consideration? That because the Yukon government categorizes these animals as feral, they can be shot down and murdered with no more ceremony than a person swatting a mosquito?
Please help the Yukon wild horses by asking the government to redesignate them from feral to wildlife. With a few mere strokes of a keyboard, these amazing and inspiring animals can be protected from needless slaughter.
Join the Yukon Wild Horses Faceook page to read about the wonderful and tragic events that these horses have to endure.
Editor’s note: The News’ received multiple versions of this letter from those listed below.
I am writing to implore you to declare Yukon wild (feral) horses a Yukon heritage animal, an animal with special wildlife designation, and finally give them legal protection from harm, harassment, capture, and death.
I am aware that the government currently considers them feral, that removing them lethally from the land is legal and that at the moment they have no protections at all.
Recently wild horses have been going missing in the Ibex Valley and in the last week, two adult horses were found deceased. The five-year-old mare and seven-year-old stallion had been shot, their yearling injured (also shot) and their four-month-old foal orphaned. Both young horses are suffering intensely and will most likely not survive the winter. It is hard to believe that such cruelty is allowed in the Yukon, especially to these much loved, sentient creatures.
The stallion Sundance and the mare Storm, as well as their families, have been followed on social media for the last four years via the Facebook group ‘Yukon Wild Horses’. They have a large following (including local First Nation citizens) and are very much loved by many, not just in the Yukon but also all over the world. They have given so much joy to so many. To see them shot down with impunity is beyond tragic. Moving forward, these horses need protection. Far from being a liability, wild horses can be promoted as a tourist attraction, just one more thing that makes the Yukon so special and so beautiful. They are one more thing to influence the decision-making process of where tourists decide to spend their holiday. They enhance the lives of so many, both in and outside the Yukon.
Ever since Europeans first arrived in the Yukon, there have been wild horses, horses abandoned, lost due to free ranging and escapees. If there was a stallion in the mix and things were favorable, wild bands formed. These horses trace as far back as the Gold Rush days, long enough to be considered a heritage animal. They symbolize the Yukon in grit, hardiness and ability to survive the harshest of conditions. They have been here long enough to adapt to the landscape and are now part of Yukon wildlife communities. It is time they were legally recognized as such. Like the bison and the elk, wild horses are a reintroduced species, recreating the Yukon fauna of 4000 years ago, to a time before the elk and the horse were hunted by humans out of existence. Wild horses are now part of the Yukon wilderness, as they were for so many millennia before.
Allowing these iconic Yukon animals to be orphaned, injured and destroyed at will is horrifying. There needs to be some protection in place for them. I am sure if you were to survey the population of the Yukon, the vast majority would want them protected. Only a small handful would be against this. A management plan could be drawn up for them, taking the needs of ranchers, farmers and other landowners into account. Things cannot continue to stand as they do now. We need to enfold these horses into the law, give them special wildlife status, recognize their place in Yukon’s history, in the Yukon wilderness, and their place in the hearts of many Yukoners, as well as people all over the world. We need to manage them humanely moving forward. Let’s be the first to do what is right for wild horses and lead the way. They need to be managed humanely for all Yukoners, so they will be here for many more generations to enjoy. We have the most northern living wild horses in the world, the toughest horses on Earth, and we should be proud of them.
When finalizing the new Animal Protection and Control Act, please include our wild horses and give them the protections they need.
The Stecyk Family, Whitehorse; Lana M. De Noni, British Columbia resident; Anette Sarnäs, Malmö, Sweden; Geraldine Ell and Rachel Cowx