Tuesday, December 09, 2008

British Columbia Govt. (Canada) Paid Aboriginal Group in the Chilcotin to Shoot Wild Horses for Wolf Bait: How You can Help

Also did this to round up other wild horses for live sale, ultimately to slaughterhouses.

Just another sad and irrational governmental decision that used short sided reasoning. Please read below. I’ve posted the contact information that a reader provided on who to contact about this incident.

Posting from Reader

Is there anyone that can help with this very serious issue? Wild horses are being slaughtered in the interior of BC, Canada. I feel public pressure is the only way to stop this outrageous crime.

Please read this:

'Ministry of Forests and Range' Contact info:

Ministry Office
Ministry of Forests and Range Mailing address:

Minister's Office

Telephone: 250 387-6240
Fax: 250 387-1040

Deputy Minister's Office
Doug Konkin
Deputy Minister
Telephone: 250 356-5012
Media Enquiries
For Media Enquiries, please contact:
Sophia Proctor
Public Affairs Officer
Telephone: 250 387-4592
Fax: 250 387-8485
E-mail: sophia.proctor@gov.bc.ca

thank you,

Teresa Taylor


Gov't paid to have Chilcotin's wild horses shot for wolf bait


By Larry PynnDecember 5, 2008Comments (50)

The B.C. government paid aboriginal people in the Chilcotin to shoot wild horses for wolf bait and to round up other wild horses for live sale, ultimately to slaughterhouses, The Vancouver Sun has learned.

The Ministry of Environment purchased the shot horses as wolf bait for a predator study related to the recovery of threatened caribou herds in the Interior, while the Ministry of Forests and Range bankrolled the live capture of horses as part of a program to reduce competition with range cattle.

News of the provincial actions is generating debate even within the aboriginal community over the management of wild horses in the Chilcotin and the need to ensure their humane treatment.

Joe Alphonse, director of government services with the Tsilhqot'in National Government (TNG), said in an interview Friday his people have been capturing horses for generations for personal use. The sale to auctions and ultimately to slaughterhouses is also a way for natives on economically depressed reserves to earn money.

"It's acceptable," he said. "It's a last resort, but it still can provide a little bit of income. That's been a part of what we've had to rely on."

But Alphonse said his people cannot condone the shooting of wild horses for use as wolf bait.

"That's not something we would endorse," he said. "I think that if the majority of our people found out the Ministry of Environment is trying to hire people to shoot horses, there'd be outrage.

"If you're going to take a horse, you pay respect and get out on the land and chase that animal in on horseback. If you can't do that, to sit and hide there and shoot guns at a horse out in the wild where the animal could get wounded and suffer, we wouldn't endorse that."

Alphonse said the forests ministry, through an agreement with TNG, paid the Stone band $200 a horse to catch 25 horses last winter to reduce competition with ranchers' cattle. Up to half of the horses were sold at auction and ultimately sent to slaughterhouses, he said, and the rest were kept in the Chilcotin as saddle horses.

The forests ministry would like to continue the program this winter if funding is available.

Environment Ministry spokesman Dan Gilmore confirmed the ministry paid members of the Xeni Gwet'in First Nation of the Nemaiah Valley $500 apiece for four horses last winter.

"When it came time to consider how best to lure and capture wolves for the purposes of the mountain caribou recovery program, it was recommended that we use horseflesh," he said in a statement.

"Knowing of the activities of first nations, we undertook to ask if any first nations communities could offer us horses for the purposes of our mountain caribou project.

"We had a number of positive responses, and acted to purchase horses for an agreed price. First nations people selected the horses to be supplied to us, and dispatched them in preparation for transport."

Rodger Stewart, regional manager of environment for the Cariboo, said his office dealt directly with the Xeni Gwet'in administration, which has management control over the horses, and said he would not rule out making another request in the future. The Xeni Gwet'in could not be reached to comment Friday.

The horses were shot last winter to aid in the live capture of wolves near Quesnel as part of ministry research into threatened caribou populations. Gilmore said larger carcasses are preferred because they keep the wolves longer at one location, and that moose carcasses are not always available.

Mike Pedersen, Chilcotin forest district manager, said the horse culls are a response to ranchers' concerns about loss of forage. "It's a worthwhile project," he said, noting that horses also compete with moose and mule deer. "These guys (ranchers) just have to buy more hay. And in these times for those individuals, it's extremely difficult."

Aerial surveys in the area showed that the wild horse population has increased to 442 in 2008 from 123 in 1998.

Pedersen said he would like to continue the program this year, but won't know if there is money for it until January.

Alphonse said that despite native participation in the government-financed cull, he does not believe there are too many wild horses in the Chilcotin. "There's not an overpopulation," he said.

The Spanish introduced the modern horse to North America about five centuries ago. By the time explorer Simon Fraser ventured through the Chilcotin two centuries ago, the horse was already there.

David Williams of Friends of the Nemaiah Valley said he supports the right of natives to capture horses. But he urged the province to declare the free-roaming horses wildlife and to develop policy to ensure their capture is scientifically justified and humane. Currently, wild horses are considered feral and lack protection.

The Tsilhqot'in National Government represents 3,500 people in six communities.

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