Feral horses looking for a home

Concerns a group of feral horses may get sent to a slaughterhouse if they're not bought at auction are unfounded, says the Yukon's director of agriculture.

Concerns a group of feral horses may get sent to a slaughterhouse if they’re not bought at auction are unfounded, says the Yukon’s director of agriculture.

“If (the horses) aren’t sold off here then we’ll try to find other places for them,” said Tony Hill. “We wouldn’t send them off to a meat packing plant … I don’t know where that rumour started.”

The 11 horses were recently corralled in the Takhini Valley area where some ran wild for up to 20 years.

The horses will be sent to ranches in Alberta or British Columbia capable of breaking and rehabilitating them so they can be sold.

Some may end up in the horse-equivalent of a retirement home, said Hill.

But the government is hoping they’ll be snapped up before they need to send them down South.

To try to draw more public interest and give people time to put together a bid, the government has pushed back the date of the public auction, which had been scheduled for this Saturday.

It will now happen on October 9.

In the meantime, the two groups of feral horses are being boarded at the Whitehorse Riding Stables.

Getting them there wasn’t easy.

Rounding up a band of horses that have run wild for almost 20 years is complete mayhem, said Paul Heynen.

He spent years trying to wrangle one set of seven horses near Haines Junction that some people say may have once belonged to Elijah Smith.

They were becoming a problem for motorists.

Recently two of the mares in the band were killed when different cars collided into them on the Alaska Highway.

To try and lure the horses Heynen set up some corrals with food along the highway.

But he couldn’t just use bales of hay.

“The (feral horses) don’t even know what hay is,” he said.

So he put salt blocks in the corrals and waited.

It can take months for the horses to no longer feel threatened to feed from the corral.

But when they finally tripped the gate, he got five mares and one stallion penned in the corral. A younger stallion didn’t get in, but was waiting nearby.

Heynen needed three other people just to transfer the horses into a trailer.

“You’re nervous because you’re dealing with a stallion,” said Heynen, explaining that he’s watched a stallion on his father’s farm tear another horse’s throat out.

“They’re extremely dangerous, especially around mares.”

The four wranglers, each standing on a thin piece of plywood, used a large tarp to push the horses through the corral and into the trailer.

“The plywood is flying everywhere,” said Heynen.

“If the stallion hits the corral you’re standing on he might just run you over.”

Heynen has been wrangling horses, cows and geese for 25 years.

The government began actively capturing horses in 1988 after a nasty spate of accidents in the early ‘80s that killed six people. Between 1982 and 1986 there were 88 accidents involving horses.

Since 1996 there haven’t been any fatalities related to horses, said Heynen.

But horses are still dying.

This summer alone nine horses were killed between the stretch of Haines Junction and the Takhini River Bridge, said Heynen.

Seven of those horses were owned by people and had gotten loose.

That was the case with the other four horses Heynen captured earlier in the summer that are up for auction.

He initially caught eight horses, but the owner couldn’t afford the fees to get his horses back so he forfeited four of them.

According to Heynen, there are still two groups of feral horses running wild in the Yukon.

Contact Vivian Belik at vivianb@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Premier Sandy Silver, left, and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley, speak during a live stream in Whitehorse on January 20, about the new swish and gargle COVID-19 tests. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Swish and spit COVID-19 test now available in Yukon

Vaccination efforts continue in Whitehorse and smaller communities in the territory

Local poet Joanna Lilley is photographed at the Beringia Centre in Whitehorse on Jan. 20, where she will be hosting a poetry workshop on Jan. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Poetry for the ages

Workshop set for the Yukon Beringia Centre

President Joe Biden signs executive orders after speaking about the coronavirus, accompanied by Vice President Kamala Harris in the State Dinning Room of the White House on Jan. 21, in Washington, D.C. The administration announced plans Jan. 20 for a temporary moratorium on oil and gas leasing in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge after the Trump administration issued leases in a part of the refuge considered sacred by the Gwich’in. (Alex Brandon/AP)
U.S. President Joe Biden halts oil and gas lease sales in ANWR

“Its great to have an ally in the White House”

asdf
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for Jan. 22, 2021

Children’s performer Claire Ness poses for a photo for the upcoming annual Pivot Festival. “Claire Ness Morning” will be a kid-friendly performance streamed on the morning of Jan. 30. (Photo courtesy Erik Pinkerton Photography)
Pivot Festival provides ‘delight and light’ to a pandemic January

The festival runs Jan. 20 to 30 with virtual and physically distant events

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. While Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis is now setting his sights on the upcoming territorial election, other members of council are still pondering their election plans for the coming year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillors undecided on election plans

Municipal vote set for Oct. 21

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decicions made by Whitehorse city council this week.

A file photo of grizzly bear along the highway outside Dawson City. Yukon conservation officers euthanized a grizzly bear Jan. 15 that was originally sighted near Braeburn. (Alistair Maitland/Yukon News file)
Male grizzly euthanized near Braeburn

Yukon conservation officers have euthanized a grizzly bear that was originally sighted… Continue reading

Mayor Dan Curtis listens to a councillor on the phone during a city council meeting in Whitehorse on April 14, 2020. Curtis announced Jan. 14 that he intends to seek nomination to be the Yukon Liberal candidate for Whitehorse Centre in the 2021 territorial election. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Whitehorse mayor seeking nomination for territorial election

Whitehorse mayor Dan Curtis is preparing for a run in the upcoming… Continue reading

Gerard Redinger was charged under the <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> with failing to self-isolate and failing to transit through the Yukon in under 24 hours. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Man ticketed $1,150 at Wolf Creek campground for failing to self-isolate

Gerard Redinger signed a 24-hour transit declaration, ticketed 13 days later

Yukon Energy, Solvest Inc. and Chu Níikwän Development Corporation are calling on the city for a meeting to look at possibilities for separate tax rates or incentives for renewable energy projects. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Tax changes sought for Whitehorse energy projects

Delegates call for separate property tax category for renewable energy projects

Yukon University has added seven members to its board of governors in recent months. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
New members named to Yukon U’s board of governors

Required number of board members now up to 17

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Your Northern regulatory adventure awaits!

“Your Northern adventure awaits!” blared the headline on a recent YESAB assessment… Continue reading

Most Read