NESPELEM - A project to remove between 1,000 and 1,500 feral horses from Colville Reservation range lands started this week near Nespelem, as part of three decisions taken by the Colville Business Council to improve feral horse management on the Colville Reservation.

The contractor, Sun J Ranch, was awarded a contract in the amount of $478,750. 

That contract is expected to the contract was expected run through March 31. Target areas listed in the contract include Omak’s Omak Lake and Coyote Creek area, Nespelem’s Buffalo Lake area and the Hellgate Game Reserve.

A press release from CBC, Jan. 31, notes the CBC also approved new Wild horse Chase and Capture regulations, including an increase in the reward to tribal members to $383 per horse captured. 

The Council also approved a contract for aerial assisted capture of wild horses and tribal code revisions to allow the use of motorized vehicles in wild horse chase and capture.

“The Colville Business Council responsibly addressed the need to better protect our lands, water, wildlife and native plants on the reservation with these decisions,” Colville Business Council Chairman Rodney Cawston is quoted in the press release. “These decisions also provide a plan to protect a healthy population of wild horses here.”

In 2015, the tribes hired the same contractor to remove up to 1,000 horses from reservation lands. That contract resulted in the removal of just over 420 horses from range units near Nespelem’s Buffalo Lake.

Chairman Cawston noted that the steadily increasing horse numbers have caused serious environmental damage to wildlife habitat, and to native plant life, the spread of invasive plant species, soil compaction and erosion. 

Cawston further noted wild horses also compete for forage with big game animals such as deer and elk and for habitat occupied by sharp-tailed and other grouse species.  

“The CBC’s decisions will benefit the natural environment, improve habitat for our wildlife and native plants, and will also result in healthier wild horse herds,” Cody Desautel, Natural Resources Division director said.  “These represent responsible stewardship and natural resources management.”

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