Thursday, October 8, 2009

Canadas "Wild Horse Rangers" Taking Wild Horse Protection Upon Themselves

Wild Horse Rangers

Friends of the Nemaiah Valley is extremely pleased to have played an instrumental role in the hiring of the first (as far as we know!) Wild Horse Patrol Ranger in Canada.

We knew that the declaration of the “?Elegesi Qiyus Wild Horse Preserve” would draw attention to the iconic nature of the horse. For most this would be positive, but some might disagree. After all, government policies have not been kind to the wild horses of the Chilcotin in the past. . Prior to 1946, thousands of wild horses were shot in the Chilcotin by government sanctioned bounty hunters profiting at the expense of these animals, receiving $3.00/mare and $5.00/stallion. Even until the mid ‘60s they were rounded up for horsemeat. There is no government agency that provides any protection for these animals today.

The obvious solution is to have rangers who will provide surveillance and protection of the horses and other wild animals of the preserve. The Xeni Gwet’in First Nations Government and BC Parks have a joint management agreement which provides for rangers within Ts’il?os Park and Nunsti (Taseko) Parks, but this leaves the rest of the preserve unpatrolled. We knew that provincial government cutbacks were likely to result in fewer ranger hours as well.

FONV decided that initially we would set out to raise funds to fund a ranger half time. We applied to the Vancouver Foundation and received a startup grant. When we combined this with private donations targeted to this program we had enough to begin.

Harry Setah, Wild Horse Patrol
While FONV provides funding, the XGFNG administers the program and hires the ranger who will be their employee. Accordingly, in the spring of 2003 Harry Setah was hired. Harry was the original park ranger. He has the skills, knowledge and equipment to do the job.

Harry watches over the horses and monitors their condition. He keeps track of numbers and make up of the various bands. He will soon be equipped with a GPS to map locations of sightings and horse trails. This adds a valuable research component to the work he does. He is a constant Xeni Gwet’in FN presence out on the land.

In reality, the huge size of the preserve deserves at least two full time rangers. Until we are able to locate sustainable funding of this magnitude, however, Harry is out there on horseback doing what he does best.

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