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Wild horses take over hwy. & roads

The Penticton RCMP continues to deal with the ongoing issue of wild horses wandering on to busy roads and Highway 97 in the West Bench area.

Just Tuesday, resident Theresa Nolet shot video (above) of the RCMP moving horses, that live on the Penticton Indian Band reserve, off the highway.

"My concern is the police cannot babysit these horses," said Nolet, who has long been concerned about the horses' welfare. "This is an accident waiting to happen, and my fear is someone will be seriously injured. Political leaders have to step-up to the plate and say enough is enough."

Cpl. Jas Johal says the RCMP has met with PIB chief Jonathan Kruger and the council this year, after receiving a high volume of calls, primarily from West Bench residents.

Earlier this year, two of the feral horses were killed on the highway.

"We are taking this issue quite seriously because public safety is paramount." he said. "The PIB is seeking a solution to this as well, but funding is an issue."

Johal estimates there are as many as 40 to 50 wild horses roaming in the Penticton, Keremeos and Summerland areas.

Currently the five issues they are focusing on are: brand registration, fencing and cattle guards, a common containment area where they can put hay and salt and a sterilization program, including castration or sterilizing the female horses.

Lastly, there has been talk about creating bylaws and polices for the PIB, so they can issue citations if branded horses roam freely.

There are about three or four cattle guards in place now on PIB land and some fencing. But dirt bikers cut the fencing down, contributing to the problem.

The PIB has also considered getting a chopper in to count the number of horses, but again getting the money to do that is an issue, said Johal.

He has also suggested getting support from government grants, with the Ministry of Highways possibly able to assist.

Kruger agreed that these solutions are being looked at.

"I think we are taking the best steps possible, considering what we have in front of us right now," he said.

In the last few years, band members have also brought the number of horses down, but the market for selling horses is currently not good.

Residents can also expect to see more of the animals around, because they come down from the hills in the winter and have more of a presence.

Any input from the public on the ongoing issue is also much appreciated.

"If the general public has any input or suggestions on this, both myself and PIB are open to hearing them," said Johal. "Again my primary concern is for public safety. If the horses are on the highway there is a risk to both the public and the horses."

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