What would a horse fence cost?

As noted in a previous posting, we are having a light year for horses on the West Bench.  Some residents have therefore posed a reasonable question: Why would we build an expensive fence if the horse problem is solved?

Ultimately this will go to some kind of voter assent process (likely a referendum) so you will be asked to decide this question for yourself.  But a couple of things to consider:

  1. The herd has apparently been reduced by the PIB. However, we have no control over reproductive or removal rates for these horses and could find ourselves at some point in the future overun by another large herd.  A fence would give us some measure of control over what happens on the West Bench side.
  2. The cost of a fence is not as high as most people assume.  The general idea we try to achieve in regional districts is that the beneficiaries of a service pay.  As such, we would spread the capital cost of the fence over a fairly long time period (say 20 years) so that current residents do not end up paying for something that will still be in place in 2030.

I have done some rough calculations on fence costs over a 20 year term.  I have used recent per-meter costs and factored in cattleguards and 30% for contingency.

These are very rough numbers *** updated to reflect issue noted below on 18 Mar 10:

Length of fence 15 km
Cost per meter  $ 11  
Fence materials and labor  $ 165,000  
Cattle guards  $ 50,000 guess
Contingency and engineering 30%  
Total cost of fence  $  279,500  
Senior government grants  $  -    
Net cost  $ 279,500  
Term 20 years
Interest 7%  
Annual cost $26,004
Number of housholds 600  
Cost/household $43.34 per year
Fence maintenance $10,000 per year
Total capital and maintenance  $ 60.01 per household per year




<p>Oops, an early version of these calculations were out to lunch [<b>they are now corrected</b>]--I calculated the MONTHLY debt repayment, not the annual debt repayment.&nbsp; I guess this is why we have RDOS staff do the math...</p>

As a resident of Area F, contributor to the Delphi Survey and someone who has done some research on the control of feral horse populations, I am still surprised to see that there is no mention of any strategy to control the horse population.   The removal of 100 horses this past fall by the PIB did take some of the pressure off of the area for the short term.   The feeding stations did manage to keep probably one or two herds off of public and private lands.   However, what is continually forgotten is the fact that every mature mare in the herd will probably give birth this spring.  The consultant hired by the RDOS estimated between 300 and 400 horses residing in the area on or adjacent to PIB lands prior to the removal of the approx. 100 horses.  That means there are still 200 to 300 horses "out there".   If even 50% are breeding mares then that means there will be an increase to the herds by another 100 horses by this summer/fall and we are basically right back where we started.  Fencing is not the best solution from an economical or a results based point of view.   Solid research and encouraging results have been realized in the use of a contraceptive vaccine that is administered to the mares in a herd via air rifle.  As a taxpayer and one that would be asked to vote on a fee to pay for fencing and fencing maintenance; I am not in favor of footing the bill for a short term solution that will only continue to cost too much and not change the situation of an over population problem that leads to starvation and property damage. 

Population control is certainly part of the overall plan.  However, it must occur on the other side of the fence.  That is, the RDOS has no jurisdiction to go onto First Nations land and start sterilizing animals.  This is something that the PIB and horse owning families would have to decide to do.  Of course, the RDOS is certainly open to working with Critteraid and other organizations to promote such measures to the PIB.  The PIB leadership is well aware of the horse population issue and intends to address the broad issue of range management in the PIB's comprehensive community plan.

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