A problem to rein in wild horses

Wild horses roam free near Mt. Baldy - raw video by Deborah Pfeiffer

In the aftermath of the death of two feral horses on Highway 97, the Penticton Indian Band and local authorities say there are no easy solutions to controlling the wild horse population.

The band, the Regional District Okanagan-Similkameen and RCMP have been trying to rein in the horses, which have lived on the reserve for years.

“It’s very sad and unfortunate,” said Chief Jonathan Kruger. “We have been working with the RDOS and we have two feeding stations  on the reserve to keep them away from housing, highways and roads, but they go where they please.”

Early Friday morning two horses were hit by a logging truck near the Redwing housing complex, according to Penticton RCMP Sgt. Rick Dellebuur.

The truck left the scene and the RCMP was advised that the horses were hit.

The animals were part of a group that had been on the section of highway just north of Penticton for much of the week.

On the reserve there are a combination of wild horses and horses owned by private owners, according to Kruger.

Along with the feeding stations, the band members have put up fencing,  but it has been cut down. There are also salt licks put out for the horses, in hopes of keeping them in a more contained area.

In the future, Kruger hopes to install more cattle guards in strategic locations where they feel the horses might be crossing.

Partnerships with ICBC and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure  could also help, because there are sections of highway 97 that are technically, legally on the reserve lands, he said.

“It’s the responsibility of our province as well, it can’t just be the PIB,” he said. “It has to be everyone working together.”

Dellebuur said it remains an ongoing situation that the RCMP deal with.

“There’s a lot of history to it, and I don’t know who can resolve it,” he said. “We are just a cog in the wheel. We attend and try to get them to move on.”

Theresa Nolet, a West Bench resident who has long been involved in horse rescues, says the problem with wild horses is widespread in the South Okanagan.

She brought attention to the group of horses by the highway north of Penticton last week.

Last year, she was instrumental in saving a horse that was found on the way to Mount Baldy in the Oliver area. More recently, she helped out a small mare that collapsed in front of an Oliver area property.

While she was able to help save the two, there are many more feral horses literally starving to death on the way to Mount Baldy, she said.

“It is the same thing down there, as here, horses in terrible condition,” she said.

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