Assessing stakeholder interests: a strategy for best management practices of free-roaming horses, Chilcotin, British Columbia
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The purpose of this research was to assess stakeholder interest pertaining to best management practices for free-roaming horses in the Chilcotin, British Columbia. The study site is located between the towns of Hanceville to the east and Tatla Lake to the west. A case study approach was adopted, utilizing on-site observation, document analysis and semi structured interview methods. Analysis, through the reduction and interpretation of data, allowed for the emergence of the themes and subthemes. Themes were free-roaming horse interaction with both the biophysical and socioeconomic landscape as well as management. British Columbia government, ranchers, First Nations and Non Governmental Organizations were interviewed on their awareness and interaction with free-roaming horses, the management and policies pertaining to the species. Free-roaming horses have historically represented a social and economic resource, although stakeholders have had little input into management decisions. Antiquated policies, clashing social values, changing land title and land use and difficult economic times have resulted in a lack of clarity regarding jurisdiction, and therefore management, for the free-roaming horses. Management goals are not clear due to lack of classification as livestock or wildlife under provincial or federal legislations. A strategy, which promotes decentralization, collaboration and transparency in decision and policy-making is recommended. Multi-stakeholder research is the first step toward creating such a strategy.