100 Mile House, B.C. - The SPCA has begun an animal cruelty investigation after finding five dead horses and 12 others that are starving at a First Nations reserve in B.C.'s Interior.
Shawn Eccles of the SPCA says an animal protection officer will be meeting Wednesday with the Canim Lake Band and the RCMP to gather information about the horses that may have been abandoned.
He says the animals may be wild, or they could have had trouble foraging for food in the severe winter weather after their owners turned them out in the fall.
Eccles says it may be difficult for the SPCA to establish who owns the horses if they haven't been branded and no one takes responsibility for them.
Laird Archie, a hay supplier and member of the band, says he's counted the carcasses of 19 dead horses on the reserve, where another 30 horses are starving and 40 more are missing.
The band says it does not own any livestock and that it has contacted police about several harassing phone calls to its office.