Referencing Steve Kidd’s article (Western News, June 15, Wild horses causing issues at schools) my relatives have lived in the South Okanagan region for more than 60 years and during 55-plus of those years, family visits have taken place.
Since moving to Penticton, almost five years ago, my wife and I have driven extensively throughout the South Okanagan and have seen and captured some of its wilderness, quaint community living and a city with each of the surrounding communities stretching to grow. The feral horse issue has been long-standing, and on occasion serious incidences involving horses in search of forage and/or water while roaming the highway have happened. However, not to minimize the issue, it does appear most of the encounters have more of a nuisance factor them.
Travelling the area confirms most folk have erected fencing and gates (including West Bench Elementary and the Outma Sqilx’ W Cultural School). Also, a new cattle guard has been placed at the entryway to Westhills Drive, together with new fencing to help prevent their intrusion onto the West Bench.
There is, however, a problem at the cattle crossing on Bartlett Drive leading to Husula Highlands — the walkway upgrade allows the horses to pass without going over the cattle crossing and the fencing along Ambert Drive is in need of repair. It would seem to me, when the walkway was put in, someone was not thinking about the feral horses that might want to visit the more domesticated mares in the neighbourhood.
The feral horses and the cattle moved from one grazing area to another. The big horned sheep, and other wild life, all have their challenges while competing for survival. It is up to the community of South Okanagan to consider them influences as each of the communities continue to move into their space — culling or sterilization should not be an option — the wild will take care of the wild.
The beauty of the area, vacation spots, fishing/hunting, wilderness and the people with their cultural differences make South Okanagan a desired area for sport enthusiasts, the tourists, family, etc. With that in mind, the more space the communities take from the wild will affect all communities including the wild, and will require a greater forecast of the resulting effects upon each.
Quick fixes often lead to long-term hardships. It takes effort and constant monitoring to ensure positive long term results. Oversights will occur, but I believe we can all do better going forward.
M.D. (Merv) Jones