Wild Horse RangersSince 2002, Friends of the Nemaiah Valley have been able to fund the first and only Wild Horse Ranger Patrol program 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 Parks, but this leaves the rest of the preserve unpatrolled.
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.
In 2003, Harry Setah became the first Wild Horse Ranger. The XGFNG administers the program and hires the ranger who will be their employee. Harry had the skills, knowledge and equipment to do the job.
Harry watched over the horses and monitored their condition, keeping track of numbers and makeup of the various bands. This added a valuable research component to the work FONV does besides providing a constant Xeni Gwet’in FN presence out on the land.
Sadly, Harry passed away suddenly in the fall of 2009.
In 2010, David Setah was chosen by the band to become the new Wild Horse Ranger. David says there is no other job he would rather have.
At present, we are working with David and the Xeni Gwet’in to involve more of the youth and to make this program self-funding.