The “Wild” or “Feral” Distraction: Effects of Cultural Understandings on Management Controversy Over Free-Ranging Horses (Equus ferus caballus)
Use of the terms “wild” and “feral” characterizes ongoing debate over management of free-ranging horses. However, the focus on terminology tends to obscure complex differences in meanings and cultural perception. Examining a case study in the Chilcotin region of British Columbia, we explore how the terms “wild” and “feral” distract from the underlying issues at stake in management of horses and the landscape: different ways of valuing, understanding, and relating to land and animals. To be effective in the long term, and to avoid an unwitting continuation of outdated culturally biased land management practices, future decisions regarding management of lands and free-roaming horses in the Chilcotin would benefit from an integrated process informed by both ecological and socio-cultural information.