Dozens of volunteers have been digging through deep snow in the remote area of Robson Valley, B.C., trying to rescue two horses that were found trapped by snowdrifts last week.
The area, between Prince George and Jasper, is only accessible by a 30-kilometre snowmobile trek, and it could be days before the animals can be saved, the B.C. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said Tuesday.
"It's just amazing that there's volunteers who are stepping up at those temperatures," Kent Kokoska, an animal protection officer, told CBC News.
Snowmobilers discovered the two horses last Monday. Both showed signs of frostbite and starvation.
Volunteers from a snowmobile club in McBride, about 210 kilometres east of Prince George, local teenagers and even young children have been shovelling in the bitter cold.
"Everyone has sort of put their lives on hold this week to do this," said Alison Schreiber, whose family has been hard at work.
"It was really amazing. When you see these guys [volunteers] coming off the hill with frostbite all over their cheeks. They're just working so hard," she said.
The volunteers have brought feed and blankets to keep the horses alive.
A veterinarian checked the horses last Friday and they are both in stable condition, Kokosha said. But one of the horses appears to be significantly underweight.
It will likely take four more days to dig a snow trench large enough to free the horses, he said.
Once the trench is complete, it is expected to take the animals a day or two to walk out.
SPCA officials said they have tracked down the owner of the horses but have not released any further information.