Mar 14, 2013 / 6:00 am
Theresa Nolet wants to step up public awareness about wild horses, after two were recently killed on Highway 97.
Not only are horses who roam in the West Bench area of concern to the longtime horse rescuer, she also wants attention drawn to the plight of the animals in the Oliver area.
“It was well documented the horses were on the highway, and then last Friday there was the accident,” she said. “So I just do not understand how the political process works on this.”
The group of horses had been observed on the highway just north of Penticton all week, as well as being covered by Castanet.
The two died when they were struck by a logging truck early Friday near the Redwing housing complex.
The horses typically roam on the Penticton Indian Reserve, where there is a mix of the feral animals and privately owned horses.
In the Oliver area, the horses are typically spotted by the side of the road going up to Mount Baldy on the Osoyoos Indian Reserve.
Most recently, Nolet, who lives in West Bench and operates O.A.T.S. Horse Rescue, said she received a call from a lady in the Oliver area who had rescued a small feral horse that collapsed in front of her property.
The little mare was emaciated and weak. She has since been nursed back to health and named Tahini.
Tahini is a lucky one, Nolet claims.
“The sad part of this story is that once again the feral horses on the way to Mount Baldy are in horrific condition, virtually walking skeletons,” she said.
Also of concern is the horses are rounded up in the fall and sold for slaughter for human consumption overseas, she claims.
In an effort to get something done, Nolet has been in touch with Osoyoos Indian Band Chief Clarence Louie, who told her to write him a letter and not pussyfoot around the issue.
She said Penticton Indian Band Chief Jonathan Kruger also knows who she is.
“I believe this is a political issue and the political will does not seem to be there,” she said.
In an earlier interview Kruger said he has worked with the Regional District Okanagan-Similkameen regarding the horses on the PIB land.
Michael Brydon, RDOS director for Area F, said the horses are allowed to roam on the range, but it is an ongoing problem because they show up in neighbourhoods and on roads.
The situation became extremely bad four years ago when they stared wreaking havoc in West Bench yards.
At that time, the RDOS worked with the PIB to develop a fence plan, but it never came to fruition.
While working on that plan, feeding stations were placed on the land, for the horse population he estimates to be anywhere from 200 to 400.
The stations worked well for about three years, but now the animals seem to be ignoring them, he said.
The most likely reason being the herd is getting bigger and more of them are looking for food in the winter.
Since the two horses died, he has been in touch with MP Dan Albas and remains committed to working with the band every step of the way, he said.
“We are interested in talking to Theresa Nolet, Dan Albas and other politicians about other solutions. Everything is on the table, including sterilization,” he said.
“I think people don’t think we know what to do, but we are doing what we can. We recognize we need to push forward on this.”
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