[Kamloops] No rescuer for feral horses


The following article appear in the February 8, 2011, edition of the Kamloops Daily News (link to full article and comments).It provides some good background information on the sale of feral horses.

Daily News Staff Reporter

For buyer Kevin Spears, the bidding Tuesday for one of more than 20 feral horses rounded up and put to auction by the province went a little too high.

Spears, who lives in the Prince George area, said he bid $100 or so for several of the horses that went through the B.C. Livestock Co-operative Association auction.

“They look like good horses,” Spears said. “If they went cheap enough you could make a go.”

Where will the horses go?

Last month they freely roamed the area around Walhachin and Deadman Valley. Tuesday they were put through the auction ring for sale, following the weekly regular cattle auction.

The Ministry of Forests hired a contractor last month to round up the rogue horses that feed on Crown range, often chewing new bluebunch wheatgrass down to the dirt as it grows in spring. That practice can kill the plant and invite in noxious weeds.

The animals fetched between $170 and $230 at the auction. The province will not recover the cost of rounding them up and housing them from the sale.

Unused to being around people, the horses were skittish inside the auction ring as auctioneer Larry Jordan called out to bidders.

“She's a pretty one,” he remarked before starting bids on a mare. “Such a kind eye.”

Another wild-eyed gelding charged from corner to corner in the small ring:

“He can run, boys,” Jordan remarked.

Several buyers approached after the sale declined to comment. Typically feral horses are purchased for processing into pet or human food. Slaughter is illegal in the United States but horse meat is Canada's fourth largest meat export.

Mark Canart, a regular cattle buyer in Kamloops, said he didn't buy any of the feral horses Tuesday. But he said the only market is for processing — what he said is far more humane than letting animals out to starve on the range.

Spears said he was looking to scoop up a feral horse for $100 or so Tuesday — an opportunity that didn't happen — in an attempt to break the animal for riding.

“It would give something for the kids to do.”

Canart said a run-of-the-mill broke horse might fetch $600 to $1,000 in the auction ring. The feral horses were purchased for one-third that amount or less.

“That's all. You can buy a good broke horse. It doesn't take the time and effort to make these that.”