Human Ecology

, Volume 39, Issue 5, pp 613–625

The “Wild” or “Feral” Distraction: Effects of Cultural Understandings on Management Controversy Over Free-Ranging Horses (Equus ferus caballus)

  • Jonaki Bhattacharyya
  • D. Scott Slocombe
  • Stephen D. Murphy

DOI: 10.1007/s10745-011-9416-9

Cite this article as:
Bhattacharyya, J., Slocombe, D.S. & Murphy, S.D. Hum Ecol (2011) 39: 613. doi:10.1007/s10745-011-9416-9


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 To be effective in the long term, and to avoid an unwitting continuation of outdated culturally biased land management practices, future decisions regarding management of lands and free-roaming horses in the Chilcotin would benefit from an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.


Wild Feral Free-ranging horses Cultural values Landscape management British Columbia 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jonaki Bhattacharyya
    • 1
  • D. Scott Slocombe
    • 2
  • Stephen D. Murphy
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Planning, Faculty of EnvironmentUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada
  2. 2.Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, Faculty of ArtsWilfred Laurier UniversityWaterlooCanada
  3. 3.Department of Environment and Resource Studies, Faculty of EnvironmentUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada

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