B.C.’s top ‘cowboy cop’ is investigating the deaths of 17 wild horses that were shot on B.C. Crown land near Kamloops.
“This is simply a cruel act,” said Cpl. Cory Lepine with the B.C. RCMP Livestock Section.
Lepine works as a livestock investigator who looks into everything from stolen or poached cattle to cases of fraud, disputes between neighbours and suspicious livestock deaths.
Lepine is leading the investigation in collaboration with the RCMP’s Forensic Identification Section. Lepine said that he will be “knocking on doors” in the area in the coming days as part of the investigation.
The RCMP was contacted about the deaths on March 10, and it is believed that the horses had been dead for approximately two weeks, said Lepine.
The horses were not a managed herd and “don’t belong to anyone,” but frequented Skeetchestn First Nation land and were known to the community.
Feral horses are a risk on roads for drivers and are known to encroach on livestock grazing areas which can spread disease and damage the land.
“They do get a bit of a bad reputation,” said Lepine.
While the broncos can be a risk to the public and a nuisance to local residents, they hold historical significance to the area, explained Lepine.
“The motive behind this disheartening act cannot be confirmed at this point. However, investigators will continue to collect and examine everything available,” said Cpl. James Grandy with the B.C. RCMP.
The herd may have been living in the area for hundreds of years, said Lepine. It’s likely that these feral animals are not simply a result of dumped domesticated horses but are descendants of a wild population that travelled to North America from Russia prior to European exploration and colonization.
There are approximately 200 wild horses living in the Brittany Triangle, located North West of Kamloops in the Cariboo region. The feral population has a unique genetic makeup compared to other horses in Canada, indicative of their storied past.
Lepine explained that the herds do need to be controlled but the government has specific, science-based methods of managing the population of horses.
Anyone with any information relating to the shooting of the horses are asked to contact Lepine at 250-299-7462, or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.