Survey reins in opinions on area’s feral horses problem

By Kristi Patton - Penticton Western News April 28, 2009 (link to story)

A long-term sustainable solution is what residents in West Bench want in solving the roaming horse issues.

“This is a complex problem and we want residents to know that we are making progress,” said Michael Brydon, director of RDOS electoral area F. “We want a long-term, sustainable solution and now we know from our survey that our citizens value that as their highest priority.”

Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen web-based surveys are being used to elicit the views of residents concerning the long-standing issue of roaming horses in the residential areas west of Penticton. The first Delphi survey ran until mid-April and set out the top five priorities and ranked them on a scale where 5 is very important and 1 is unimportant. The results were; long-term sustainability of solution (4.84), humane treatment of horses (4.79), maintain relations with First Nations (4.68), human safety (4.6) and minimize cost to residents (4.38).

A second survey is currently in process to generate and evaluate alternatives to achieve the goals identified. More than 20 alternative courses of action have been identified by the panel and these are being ranked in order of desirability.

This study will involved approximately 50 people, each completing two surveys with three rounds per survey. Roughly 20 items will be assessed. This technique has permitted the collection of more than 5,000 expressions of opinion from residents on this issue. The information being produced from these surveys is expected to help the RDOS to clearly define the issues, explore options and identify preferred responses.

Brydon said he continues to meet with Chief Jonathan Kruger of the Penticton Indian Band and representatives from both the provincial and federal governments to keep them informed of the survey’s preliminary results.

Critteraid, a non-profit animal welfare group located in Summerland, presented a proposal called Project Equus to the Penticton Indian Band that suggests ideas on how to address the issue of free-roaming horses.

“The horses have become a cause for concern to local residents, causing property damage and have citizens sensitive about their safety,” said Deborah Silk, president of Critteraid.

The proposal outlines a three-phase structure addressing six particular issues:  public safety, equine health, environmental stability, compassionate equine training, secure future for horses and viable tourism entrepreneurship.

On May 8 Critteraid will be hosting a fundraiser that will serve as a forum on the situation. The event will be raising money to purchase fencing, cattle guards and develop feeding stations to mitigate the need for the horses to go in search of food. For more information contact Critteraid at 250-494-5057 or visit

Silk said Critteraid is prepared to continue to winter feed some of the groups of horses, with PIB permission, over the next two winters which are predicted to be harsh ones.

Critteraid is currently looking for items for the Silent Auction part of the May 8 barbecue event and for games taking place at the event. The Penticton Lakeside Resort has donated all the burgers for with 100 per cent of the donations going to the fundraiser.

Anyone with an interest in the horse problem may contact Brydon at for a link to a webpage outlining the process and the results to date.