The RCMP is asking the public for any information regarding the suspicious deaths of 17 Skeetchestn traditional horses near Walhachin, west of Kamloops, earlier this year.
The horses were discovered on Crown Land on March 10, in two groups that were a considerable distance apart. Cpl. Cory Lepine of the RCMP’s Provincial Livestock Section said at the time that it was unclear how long the horses had been dead for when they were found. Investigators were also unable to determine if the horses were followed and shot one by one, although Lepine did rule out poaching.
In a statement issued on June 5, RCMP spokesperson Cpl. James Grandy said that police are continuing to “diligently investigate” the incident.
“Thanks to the community’s active involvement and cooperation, our investigators have received considerable information,” said Grandy. “We deeply appreciate these efforts.
“However, we’re appealing once more to anyone who may have information that could prove critical in advancing the investigation. We need your help to bring charges against those responsible and ensure they are successfully prosecuted.”
Grandy said that despair surrounding the incident continues to resonate throughout the community, particularly within the Skeetchestn Band, and that the RCMP understands there is a strong desire for answers and closure.
“The Skeetchestn Band has been a vital partner in our efforts, working closely with us to progress the investigation,” said Lepine in the statement. “Their cooperation and support have been invaluable.”
The horses were part of a feral herd that ran between Skeetchestn rangeland and Crown rangeland, but did not belong to the Skeetchestn Band.
The herd may have been living in the area for hundreds of years, and the horses have a unique genetic makeup compared with other horses in Canada, meaning they are not simply the result of abandoned or escaped domestic horses. It is believed that they are descendants of a wild population that travelled to North America from Russia prior to European exploration and colonization.
The RCMP notes the importance of community contributions to the ongoing investigation, and is asking anyone with information, no matter how insignificant it might seem, to come forward. Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact Lepine at 250-299-7462, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.