The 32-year-old man missing in B.C.'s southern Interior area has been identified as Ben Tyner, a cowboy with the Nicola Ranch near Merritt.
Officials with the ranch confirmed Tyner is the man missing and he is a manager at the cattle operation.
Tyner was last seen on Saturday, Jan. 26, but a search was not launched until Monday, when loggers in the Nicola Valley found a horse in full gear, but no sign of its rider.
Tyner is from Wyoming and his family is travelling from the U.S. state to help in the search.
Tyner was still missing as of KTW’s Thursday afternoon press deadline. Updates will be posted online at kamloopsthisweek.com.
Merritt RCMP Const. Tracy Dunsmore said other ranchers believe Tyner rode to an area known as Swakum Ridge, northwest of Merritt, searching for cattle belonging to the ranch.
Police say he wasn't immediately reported missing because he was working on his days off and may not have told anyone about his plans.
RCMP dog services and air support, along with members from nine southern B.C. search and rescue teams — including the Kamloops operation — continue to scour the area, but police say active logging and herds of wild horses have obscured possible tracks.
Local hunter Kim Robinson, the man who tracked down child killer Allan Schoenborn when he was at large for nine days in 2008, said he found Tyner’s horse early Monday morning, around 5:30 a.m.
“It took me about 20 minutes to get him because he was pretty jumpy — something happened to him. He only had one rein,” Robinson said. “But I caught him and tied him up to a tree.”
Robinson called a few local cowboys at that time to notify them.
“When they called me back at 12:30 p.m. — this really pissed me off — they told me that it was the manager of the Nicola Ranch’s horse, who had been missing since Saturday night. I don’t know why nobody knew.”
Robinson’s frustration didn’t end there, however, as he said he was restricted from searching the mountain by search and rescue and RCMP crews.
“I don’t need anyone to hold my hand up there,” he said, noting he had been out hunting on the ridge every morning for the past month.
Anyone with information or who may have seen a man riding in the Swakum ridge area on Saturday or Sunday is asked to contact the Merritt RCMP at 250-378-4262.
— with files from Canadian Press