Jill Matlock never expected to be wrangling horses in a truck as part of her training as an auxiliary Conservation Officer.
Matlock and 100 Mile Conservation Officer Joel Kline were heading back to the office Feb. 17 after a day of conducting angler checks in the area when Kline heard an unusual call on his radio earpiece. Four horses had escaped from their corral and were northbound on Highway 97 near the Chasm Road, between Clinton and 70 Mile House.
They offered their assistance to the Clinton RCMP as they were close by and spotted the horses just past the north entrance to Chasm Road, trotting steadily in the middle of the highway,
“We turned on the red-and-blues and slowly followed them, signalling to traffic to slow down, and occasionally we had to herd one of the horses back into single file,” said Matlock, a student hired to work with the Conservation Office through the Youth Employment Program (YEP). “We had to keep moving and not have people pass.”
Once the Clinton RCMP and the horse owners – along with a few neighbours – arrived, the convoy blocked the horses, forcing the horses to do a U-turn and head south towards home.
The RCMP cruiser led the “parade” with lights on to slow and stop northbound traffic as needed, Matlock said, while she and Kline followed slowly behind in the COS patrol vehicle with their lights on to slow the southbound traffic behind them.
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“The horses had travelled over three kilometres up the highway by that point, so we began the slow convoy back down the road, herding the group together,” Matlock said. “We eventually reached the Chasm Rd turnoff and somehow convinced the horses to turn into the side road without incident.”
The Conservation Officer then helped the owners wrangle the horses back into their corral. Eventually, someone showed up with a bucket of oats, Matlock said, which made the job a lot easier.
“I never know what each day on the job with the COS will bring, but this was a particularly exciting afternoon,” she said. “Only in the Cariboo.”
The public is reminded to call the RAPP Line at 1-877-952-7277 to report poachers, polluters, and problem wildlife.