McBRIDE, B.C.—A group of volunteers has spent the last week shovelling through mounds of snow in bitterly cold temperatures in an effort to free two horses believed abandoned on the side of a mountain.
Ever since the horses were found by a couple of snowmobilers, local horse-lovers have been mounting a co-ordinated effort to get the animals off Mount Renshaw, just across the Alberta boundary to the west of Jasper.
Armed only with shovels, they have been working day and night to dig a kilometre-long trench through nearly two-metre-deep snow to the nearest trail to get the animals out to safety.
“We can’t get equipment there because it would get stuck,” explained Lisa Levasseur, a local rancher helping with the rescue.
“We can’t get a helicopter into them because we’re risking them if we have to tranquilize them, so the only option seems to be to dig them out by hand.”
She said the animals are badly underweight, are missing quite a bit of hair as the result of rain scald, and have some frostbite.
However, their health is now stable as rescuers have brought them blankets and hay, and have been melting water for them to drink.
Nearby residents say the animals were left behind by an Edmonton hunter last fall.
“At this point in time, we feel we have an owner identified and the matter is open for investigation, so we’re looking to collect information,” said Kent Kokoska of the B.C. SPCA.
The rescue effort still has a long way to go but while the task is difficult, it also is necessary, said Donna-Rae Coatta of Ardrossan, Alta., who helped nurse more than 100 abused horses back to health after they were found on an Andrew, Alta., farm.
“It would be really easy to say just euthanize them on the spot, but you know what, they’re two animals that are fighting for their lives and you have to give them that credit,” said Coatta.