Conservation Wildlife Management

Watch: Grizzly Bear Chases Feral Horses Through Alberta Wilderness

The bear comes tearing after the herd of nine horses and two foals in this trail camera footage captured in Alberta
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grizzly bear chases feral horses

The grizzly ran through the scene just a few seconds behind the horses. Help Alberta Wildies Society, via Facebook

Two trail cameras fastened to trees in the Canadian Rocky Mountains captured a grizzly bear in hot pursuit of a group of feral horses on the morning of June 16. The Help Alberta Wildies Society, a non-profit group that advocates for the protection of wild horses across the province, posted the footage to its Facebook page. 

At first, we see a group of roughly nine horses, mostly mature adults with a few young foals intermixed, walking into timber the day before the chase. Then, footage shows the band thundering across a creek around 6 a.m. the next day. A few seconds later, a mature grizzly bear runs into the frame, plowing through the creek and following the horses.

The next clip shows a second grizzly bear that followed the first one. The narrator explains that it came through the scene maybe five minutes later. Then, we see the chase from a different angle.  

“We were out doing cameras today, and we noticed bear tracks at the bridge. Fresh ones,” HAWS wrote in another Facebook post. “We just looked at the SD card and this is what we found had happened this morning … We did see about 80 horses out there today, and saw that most of the foals we expected to see were there. We can’t say what happened to this band as a result of this chase.”

HAWS captures lots of encounters between feral horses and other wildlife on their trail cameras. A different clip shows two horses walking up on a lone wolf slinking through the right side of the frame. HAWS is based in Olds, Alberta, a small town between Calgary and Red Deer in the eastern foothills of Alberta’s Rocky Mountains.

feral horse population alberta
The feral horse population is split into six equine management zones (EMZs). Government of Alberta

Alberta’s feral horse population lives along that same eastern slope, west of Olds. They are thought to have originated from abandoned working horses brought to the area in the early 1900s to aid in logging and outfitting operations. In 2022, a minimum population count tallied 1,178 individuals. The provincial government manages the population to minimize impacts on rangeland productivity for grazing and other wildlife.

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Grizzly bears will prey on feral horses—especially foals. While this might be jarring for horse lovers across the continent, biologists argue that they’re just another link in the wild food chain.  

“It’s easy for us as humans to assign value judgments to wildlife [behavior] and patterns that we see,” biologist-turned-politician Sarah Elmeligi told CBC after similar footage surfaced in 2022. “But really, nature is just being nature, that bear is just being a bear and those horses are just being horses and they’re doing exactly what they should be doing on the landscape.”