Opening night proceeds go to Tonasket Food Bank
Shakespeare meets the 1960s in a two-weekend production of the Bard’s comedy “The Taming of the Shrew.”
Funeral service is Monday at tribes’ Omak Longhouse
Larry “Little Beaver” Condon and friends were shooting the breeze when someone asked the famous bullrider how the heck he got to Madison Square Garden for competition in the 1960s.
Hundreds of spectators ventured to town last weekend for a variety of events during the annual Founders Day celebration.
Today, Bridgeport High School celebrates a century of graduations. Since September, the school has reached out to alumni to include in various events, from homecoming to a barbecue and today’s commencement ceremony, scheduled for 1 p.m. at the high school, 1220 Kryger Ave.
Okanogan County saw need boom during recession
Nearly a quarter of all Okanogan County residents were on food stamps at the height of the recent recession in 2011.
Ride to Rendezvous in its second day around Methow Valley
Traditional May Pole Dance set for Saturday afternoon
This weekend’s 80th annual May Festival will feature a weekend-long lineup of events from royalty coronation to a parade, basketball tournament, bass tournament and the traditional May Pole Dance.
Soap Lake boy wins overall crown during Nespelem Junior Rodeo; complete rodeo results posted
This week, our shopper takes on a whole new look in Okanogan County. As part of The Omak-Okanogan County Chronicle’s continued growth strategy, our Bottomline shopper has been renamed Bigfoot Ads.
Jorge Jimenez claims first in Conconully Fish Derby
State to dedicate pier Monday on Banks Lake
Some want animals rounded up and removed
A half-dozen bands of feral horses are roaming the hills, trampling range land and potentially posing a health risk to other livestock. They’re not wild mustangs, but instead are former domestic animals or their offspring. And they’re causing conflict and consternation among local residents, and frustration for law enforcement officials. “People seem to think animals can adapt to their environment. They take a domestic horse out there, and they expect that” the horse can fend for itself, said Deputy Dave Yarnell, the Okanogan County Sheriff’s Office’s designated animal officer. But newly released horses, accustomed to having human contact and bales of hay put out for them, don’t know what to do on their own. “They forage around. They don’t know where the shelter is, where the dangers are,” he said. He estimated there are 70-100 feral horses in the Aeneas Valley area of the Okanogan Highlands, and there have been reports of such animals in other parts of north Okanogan County. “We have had several reports over the years with wild horses, especially in that area,” Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers said. “We have rounded up some over the years. There are a lot more up there.” Yarnell said feral horses can be a problem for ranchers. They eat forage on cattle grazing lands, thus making less for the cattle and stressing the land; get into springs developed for the cattle; trample native grasses; spread noxious weed seeds; damage wildlife habitat, and spread disease to other animals. One emaciated, feral horse showed up on someone’s property recently and collapsed. It was so sick it couldn’t move its head. “We thought at first it had strangles, which is highly contagious,” Yarnell said. Strangles is a bacterial upper respiratory disease also known as equine distemper. Further investigation showed the horse had an impacted molar, which led to further infection. The horse couldn’t eat and pretty much starved. It had to be put down. “That’s an example of what can happen. They can spread disease or they can suffer if injured,” he said. Another problem is with stallions, which lead the feral horse herds. They can impregnate pedigreed horses owned by breeders. Yarnell said one breeder had to abort several mares after a feral stallion visited the domestic herd. “We’ve had ranchers threaten to shoot them, but that might bring in predatory animals,” he said. “Besides, we don’t want dead horses everywhere.” On the other extreme, some people in the area feed the horses but don’t really own them. As long as the horses have the ability to move across the range, they’re considered feral. “It’s illegal for people to allow them to run at large, but there’s no crime to enforce unless the horse is branded,” Yarnell said. At that point, for branded animals, the state brand inspector can get involved. Rogers said responsibility for dealing with the feral horses lies with his office, but the costs involved can be prohibitive. The department has had a designated animal deputy, who also has other patrol duties, for less than a year and no additional budget for animal control. “We do what we can,” he said. “Deputy Yarnell has been working on this issue for several months and is trying to organize something to go and round up the horses. The biggest problem is money, but we are doing what we can.” Yarnell said a roundup looked promising for a while, when a non-profit rescue operation in Stevens County offered to come in, corral the horses and take them to be trained and adopted. “We started to put together a plan, then we found out they had some legal problems,” he said. He checked into having a professional roundup organization come in but was given a ballpark quote of $80,000 to $120,000. “It’s totally cost-prohibitive for the county to hire someone,” he said. In the meantime, Yarnell said the county encourages ranchers and interested parties to round up horses on an individual basis. “If they’re captured, people can keep them or take them to the sale yard,” he said. “The county can’t just house them.” He said the Sheriff’s Office can help facilitate roundups, and asks that he be kept in the loop if horses are rounded up. “We need to know they’re no longer at large,” he said. One ranch in the area did round up some of the horses, but eventually turned them back to the range when others in the area complained. Some people in the area don’t want the horses removed, but that’s not really a solution because of the range and health issues involved, Yarnell said. Nourishing Hand, a north end shelter with which the county contracts to care for abandoned and seized horses on a short-term, doesn’t have the facilities to deal with the feral horses, Yarnell said. There’s also been talk of creating a wild horse refuge, but that also poses problems since the horses then would be considered “owned,” he said. “How do you contain horses that don’t respect fences?” he said. “You need lots of land. Perimeter security would be needed.” The feral horses generally are well fed and in adequate health. “They’ve learned to adapt, but they’re mostly skittish,” he said. “Since it’s such a long-term situation, many are wild-born.” Compounding the problem is the continued dumping of horses. A couple showed up in Tunk Valley just recently. “People need to realize abandoning them is animal cruelty,” Yarnell said. “If they are caught in the act, there are serious consequences,” including felony prosecution. Okanogan County isn’t alone in having to deal with feral horses. The Colville Indian Reservation also is home to herds of such animals. The U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs’ range office estimates there are around 1,000 feral horses on the reservation. The tribe recently received a $10,000 BIA grant for a count of the horses during the tribe’s annual helicopter count of game populations. BIA estimates every feral horse eats around 25 pounds of forage a day, or nearly 4.5 tons per year per horse.
Children turn out for Easter egg hunts
It’s been several years, but with more interested girls turning out this year the royalty pageant for the 66th annual Mansfield Play Days will make a comeback this weekend. “We’re starting it back up,” organizer and Mansfield Chamber of Commerce member Lois Heselwood said. “This year, we decided that we wanted to start bringing back the good old days.”
Shoppers can get their ‘junk fix’
Vendors from all over the Northwest are expected for Saturday’s fourth annual Vintage Faire. The event runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Okanogan County Fairgrounds, 175 Rodeo Trail Road. ‘ “It’s great to offer such a great venue for people’s junk fix,” said Kris Little, one of the event’s three organizers. The 50-plus vendors will offer antiques, salvaged items, jewelry, vintage goods, repurposed wares, farm junk and furniture. Booths will be in the beef barn, commercial building, the north end of the home economics building and outside. “Glampers” will offer items for glamorous, vintage-style camping. Food and beverage will be offered in the CattleWomen’s red barn and a “Blue Ribbon Bar” will be open in the grassy midway area. Beverages and an ice cream stand area also planned. Music will be provided by a brass band and a guitarist. A Vintage Faire Store will offer souvenirs, including hooded sweatshirts, beer cozies, antique replica toys, candy, canvas shopping bags and a photo booth at which people can dress up and take photos. “You could spend a whole day” at the faire shopping, eating and watching other shoppers, Little said. Last year’s faire drew around 2,300 people. “Every year we get more,” Little said. “It’s grown. It’s blown away our expectations.” “It brings in a lot more people to the fairgrounds and the community,” fairgrounds clerk Loretta Houston said. “It’s awesome. I can’t wait.” She said the faire is one of the bigger events at the fairgrounds, with several buildings and the outdoor area used. The RV area also sees increased use during the weekend. Little said some people bring wagons or wheeled wire shopping carts to haul away their purchases. Members of the Okanogan High School wrestling team will be on hand to carry larger items to vehicles in exchange for a donation to their team club. The Vintage Faire was started by five women “who love to junk” and wanted to share that love with others, Little said. Other founders are Tria Skirko, Brooke Somes, Teresa Sheeley and Kelly Buchert. Sheeley and Buchert have since bowed out of the faire. “We are just in awe that it worked,” Little said. “Now, people look forward to it.” Vendors are expected from Okanogan County and other Eastern Washington locales, and as far away as Idaho and Oregon. Shoppers come from all over the Northwest and into Canada. The organizers use a jury process to select vendors for a mix of vintage and handcrafted items. “We have pretty high standards,” Little said. Buying vintage items “can be an addiction” as shoppers hunt for specific items, great buys and things they didn’t know they needed, she said. It’s also a social event, as people greet friends they haven’t seen for awhile. “A lot will just sit and watch what other people bring out” in the way of purchases, Little said. “Some watch and giggle. Last year, one guy was out in the parking lot, tailgating, while waiting for his wife.”