Another feral horse fatally struck by vehicle in Penticton

The driver of this vehicle didn't see a dark horse on the road in time and fatally struck the animal Thursday evening. Kelby DeLaet/Global News

PENTICTON – Another innocent horse has lost its life after being hit by a car in Penticton.

“I pulled over off the side of the highway and indeed there was a dead horse on the side of the road,” says concerned Penticton resident Theresa Nolet.

The accident happened on Highway 97 near Westbench Hill Road shortly after 8:30 p.m. on Thursday. Nolet came upon a badly damaged car, with a dead horse beside it. It was a tragic situation that could have been even worse.

“The young man that hit the horse had a three-year-old daughter with him,” says Nolet. “It could have been very tragic beyond the horse losing his life.”

Also in the vehicle was the man’s wife, Harmony Slade. She told Global News they didn’t see the black horse in the dark until they had already hit it.

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“We are just lucky that it didn’t turn out to be any worse than it was, but our heart is hurting for the horse,” says Slade.

“It was an innocent animal and it should never have been left roaming there.”

Slade says the family, from Kelowna, is shaken up.

“It’s horrific and we are really sad about it,” says Slade.

Their vehicle, now parked at a storage yard in Penticton, is heavily damaged. On it are remnants of the horse: its hair stuck to the hood of the SUV.

“The average person in Canada or British Columbia is not expecting to see a herd of horses on the main highway, especially when they’re in city limits,” says Nolet.

Feral horses have been an ongoing issue in the area. The animals live on Penticton Indian Band (PIB) land but have been allowed to roam free and multiply.

READ MORE: Horse carcass left on side of Okanagan highway for three days

PIB Chief Jonathan Kruger says recent survey results show there is a consensus among band members that the horse population on the reserve needs to be reduced.

In order to try and do that, Kruger says the band will be sending letters to its members encouraging them to help shrink the horse population, for example, by selling some of the animals.

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That is welcome news for concerned residents like Nolet.

“The [horses] are not at fault. They’re just looking for something to eat and drink. They’re just trying to survive,” says Nolet.

Especially as days get shorter, Nolet is warning other motorists to be extra cautious on the road, especially on that particular section of Highway 97.

Chief Kruger says the PIB’s next meeting to discuss the issue isn’t until January 27. He says the band plans to have letters sent to its members living on the reserve before that meeting.

WATCH: More than 600 feral horses in South Okanagan expected by fall