For years now, and again last week, some rural residents have been faced with loose cattle causing damage east of Alix.
As it turns out, the problem of stray livestock is a common one.
Dianne Tucker, a former dairy farmer who lives on Range Road 222, said there was a “rodeo” in her yard on Friday when she was away at a doctor’s appointment. It wasn’t the first time.
“They’d been in my flower beds … my grandmother’s roses. My sister-in-law’s dead mother’s redwoods and Japanese peonies that are 30 years old that can’t be replaced. They stomped and tromped and ruined things.”
Tucker said the cattle belong to a neighbour. They have been free roaming the area for the last 10 years due to a lack of proper fencing.
She said the owner has been approached multiple times over the years but does nothing about it. After injuring her back this winter, it’s difficult for her to chase the cattle home and she feels enough is enough.
Another neighbour, who wishes to remain anonymous, said she is also “annoyed” with the situation and that she and her husband have been driving the cattle off their yard as well for the past nine years.
Bashaw RCMP are aware of the issue and Cpl. Phil Penny said they are working with the local brand inspector from Livestock Identification Services to find a long-term solution.
Penny said the owner of the troublesome herd has 18 cows.
According to Tucker, they are a mix of Hereford, Charolais and one “aggressive” Texas longhorn.
Livestock Identification Services is responsible for the Stray Animals Act. According to the act, the owner of the livestock is liable for damage done to real or personal property caused by the trespass of the livestock.
Tucker said on Monday that the cows have been put back in the small area that the owner has fenced on his property after she phoned RCMP on Friday. But she said she doubts they will stay there for long.
“I hope that either the cattle are impounded or moved. … Not only is our property being damaged but when they’re out on the road, the ditches here are very steep … a lot of holiday people come up our road accidentally because we’re close to the intersection of Hwy 12 and 21 and they don’t know there’s cattle running around. They could get hurt,” Tucker said. “My grandkids were chasing these cows back home about two and a half years ago and good thing they never chased them back or they’d be dead.”
Animals straying into areas they’re not supposed to be is an everyday problem, said Butch Harrish, the provincial field supervisor with Livestock Identification Services for Northern Alberta.
“Cattle, horses, it’s a common problem,” Harrish said. “A fair amount of times we impound them.”
Those who find stray animals on their property have the option of capturing or corralling them and from that time on, they have 48 hours to notify a brand inspector or the RCMP, Harrish said. They must also fill out a statement of capture form within that time frame. Those without corralling facilities can hire help to capture the animals, he added.
Tucker said she was given similar instructions for the next time the cattle are on her land when she reached out to Harrish on Friday.
“Ongoing issues between neighbours, which is pretty often the case in these deals, can go on for years. They usually try to sort it out themselves in the beginning. They eventually get tired of the problem and we get involved then, maybe five to 20 years after the problem initially started. By that point no one is talking,” Harrish said.
“We have our protocol to follow. We educate, warn and then enforce. The last case involves a ticket and then possibly off to court. That’s our last resort.”
All livestock owners have the responsibility to keep their animals secured on their property, Harrish said, noting that it is crucial to maintain fences.