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Roaming horses a provincial problem

Ownership, culture and deteriorating fences all contribute to situation



Pemberton and Mount Currie aren't the only places that have seen errant horses roaming pastures.

Many have expressed frustration with the situation that has seen a herd of approximately 60 horses roaming Highway 99 between Pemberton and Mount Currie. Two horses were killed in February after collisions with motor vehicles. Despite the efforts of local authorities, concerns persist that the horses could escape their grounds again.

But the problem isn't confined to the Pemberton-Mount Currie area.

Laird Archie has seen it first-hand. A resident of the Canim Lake Indian Reserve near 100 Mile House, he helped bring to light the fact that about 50 horses were starving and dying on the reserve in the dead of winter last year. The problem, he said in an interview, was that the owner of the horses died and left them to his children, who didn't take care of them when he passed on.

"They didn't give them one bale of hay all winter," Archie said. "They're used to those horses fending for themselves. I offered them some hay, for free, they just helped me throw it off a trailer."

Archie discovered the horses on a drive out to the dead man's property last winter. He found four or five horses dead, then got out his snowmobile so he could get a closer look. He did a tour around the reserve on his sled and counted 27 dead horses. Others were starving where they stood.

"They were skin and bones," he said. "They were a rack and hide holding them together."

The situation got so dire that the SPCA stepped in to help coordinate a rescue mission. Together with the help of veterinarians and the RCMP, the assembled parties arranged to ship 30 horses to Kamloops, according to Archie, who added he was later shunned by the community for speaking out.

"I used to haul wood for the band," he said. "After this happened, I haven't hauled any logs for the band at all."

Mike Archie, Chief Councillor for the Canim Lake Band and Laird's cousin, would not provide any comment, saying that the First Nation had already put out a press release on the matter and had nothing more to say.

Horses have also been a problem closer to Penticton, where approximately 300 horses have been roaming the region around the traditional territory of the Penticton Indian Band.

Theresa Nolet, a resident of Penticton's West Bench area, said she's seen horses roam her region for 20 years. Last winter she was feeding between 15 and 17 horses in her yard. One had a baby on her lawn. The danger, she said, is increasing for the horses because they've started crossing Highway 97, a busy thoroughfare that links Penticton with communities such as Kelowna and Osoyoos.

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