KAMLOOPS, BC – A feral horse biologist and researcher is calling for stricter federal and provincial protections for the animals after 17 carcasses were found in rural British Columbia.
Wayne McCrory, who has been studying horses in the province for some two decades, said he was shocked to learn the animals had been shot to death.
Wild horses are an important part of Canadian heritage, First Nations culture and ecosystem, and they need legislation to protect them, he said in an interview Wednesday.
“It is time to increase protection, both federal and provincial, in my opinion, to stop this senseless killing when a trigger-happy person just decides to take the law into their own hands,” McCrory said. “In Canada, whether it’s an endangered species, feral horses or old (trees), it just takes a lot of political will from the Canadian public to make that happen.”
RCMP Cpl. Cory Lepine, who is the only such cattle investigator in the province, said in an interview that he believes the horse bodies had been there for about two weeks, based on how many carcasses had been looted when they arrived. the officers.
The animals were found about 40 miles west of Kamloops, near Walhachin, BC, on Friday.
Lepine said they were located at various distances in two groups, one with six and one with 11. He said the reason has not yet been confirmed.
“This is pretty absurd, as far as I’m concerned,” he said Wednesday. “I don’t see a real reason for it.”
He said he’s not yet sure what charges the individual would face if caught, but cruelty to animals would likely be the top charge.
The Mounties are asking anyone with information to come forward.
The RCMP said in a press release on Tuesday that the horses were found in Crown Land, noting that the horses have cultural significance to the local Skeetchestn Band.
“The Skeetchestn Range is adjacent to this Crown Range (where the animals were found) and I think the horses come and go so the community is used to having them there,” Lepine said.
He noted that the feral horse herd is “well known” in the area and is estimated to include a total of around 250 animals.
The Sketchestn Indian Band said in a press release on Wednesday that its boss and council were “saddened” by the discovery.
“As a community, Skeetchestn holds these animals in high regard and enjoys sharing the land with these creatures, and is dedicated to finding out what happened to them,” he said.
The First Nation said it is cooperating with the RCMP to help investigators find those responsible for what it calls a “heinous crime”.
— By Brieanna Charlebois in Vancouver
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on March 15, 2023.
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