The Penticton Indian Band (PIB) is working with RCMP after several reports of cut fences. PIB says they have discovered a pattern and believe the fences were deliberately cut.
“This has been an ongoing issue for a number of years,” said Penticton Indian Band councillor Fred Kruger.
“There have been numerous cases of fences being damaged because of folks who want to access PIB lands for the mountain bikes and quads. It has been an ongoing issue that we have been dealing with as it comes.”
The fencing is in place along former game farm lands to keep free-roaming horses away from neighbouring highways and properties.
“The concern is that through cutting the fences, the horses are able to escape reserve land and get into this area which is right near the highway,” said James Pepper, director of the PIB natural resources department.
“This puts the horses at extreme risk of a collision as well as people and property.”
Feral horses have been an ongoing issue in the area. They roam free on PIB land and often end up on roadways.
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Pepper says the PIB will be conducting a horse count in the near future but estimates close to 500 horses are currently roaming free.
“The horses are owned by PIB community members but the PIB as an entity doesn’t own them,” said Pepper
Last month, the band expressed concerns surrounding the increase of horses along Highway 97.
Penticton resident Theresa Nolet echoed those concerns.
“I am always concerned about the horses because I drive this highway almost every day and I see them often,” said Nolet.
“I have come across dead horses several times. Dangerous not only for the horses but also to vehicles.”
Nolet has been an advocate for the horses since moving to Penticton and says more needs to be done to protect the animals.
“This traffic is steading, and it is a danger to everyone involved. It is time to update our attitude towards animals. These are not wild animals these are still used by man for enjoyment in many respects, and they deserve to be treated fairly.”
PIB says their guardian program is responsible for repairing any damaged fencing. They are also working with AIM Roads and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to address issues along the fence line.
“Our guardian program is patrolling the perimeter of the reserve everyday; we have a major focus on horses right now. Through patrolling we are identifying many places where the fence has been intentionally cut or where the fence has been weakened,” said Pepper.
RCMP have been involved and there is an active file.
If you have any information regarding the fence cuttings you are asked to call the PIB Chief Administrative Officer.