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Answer Man — Are those horses wild?

Drivers on Shuswap Road have to watch for animals.

Drivers on Shuswap Road have to watch out for four-legged travellers.

Dear Answer Man,

From the vantage point of our Valleyview back yard, we often see a herd of horses grazing high up on the hillsides above Shuswap Road to the east of Sun Rivers.

Several people have told us the herd is wild. Can you confirm this, and is there any history that is known about these horses?

Thank you very much.

SUSAN D.

Dear Susan,

Feral horses have been inhabiting the range in that area for many years, often wandering down to the road and to the South Thompson River to drink. There’s little fencing along the road so access is fairly easy. Estimates of their numbers have, at times, reached as high as a couple of hundred but they’re usually seen in much smaller groups.

Question markThe horses are thought to originate with domestic rodeo stock that went feral.

While wild horses are fun to see, they can create problems. One of the concerns is their effect on the ecosystem, since their teeth are designed to crop grass short to the ground, leaving the potential for weeds and sagebrush to come in.

A Kamloops Daily News story some years ago said the Tk’emlups band, which owns the rangeland on which the horses graze, was aware of the problem with encroaching sagebrush but attempts to restore bunchgrass weren’t meeting with success.

The horses have also created problems for motorists from time to time. In 2010, a Kamloops woman said she had a close call when she came upon the horses one evening. “It was dark and fog rolled in across the road,” she said. “I wasn’t going very fast. I just saw the glow of his eyeballs. By the time I stopped he was over top of me.”

She said she’d also once seen the carcass of a feral mare that was struck and killed by a car.

Hay field made good eating for this herd of sheep.

Hay field made good eating for this herd of sheep.

In the spring of 2011, a motorcyclist almost hit one of the horses and had to crash his bike to avoid it, causing several thousand dollars in damage.

Nevertheless, most people seem to enjoy seeing the horses and wish them no harm.

Of course, the real animal stars of the area are the bighorn sheep. While sightings along the Yellowhead Highway in the Sun Rivers area aren’t nearly as frequent since a fence was built to keep them safe from traffic, they’re easy to find along Shuswap Road, as you can see by the photo I took while I was there on an unsuccessful search for horses in connection with your inquiry.

ANSWER MAN

Got a question for the Answer Man about something you’ve seen or wondered about in Kamloops? Send it to armchairmayor@gmail.com.

 

About Mel Rothenburger (9238 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

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