Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters


Slaughter looms for rare sheep herd

April 1, 2012 CBC News 

More than 40 sheep from a rare, heritage breed on an Ontario farm are to be put to death tomorrow by the federal government. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is euthanizing the sheep because a single member of the flock was sold to an Alberta farm in 2007 and, three years later, tested positive for the degenerative livestock disease scrapie.

None of the other Shropshire sheep at Wholearth Farmstudio near Peterborough, Ont., has ever tested positive for the fatal infection, owner Montana Jones says. But the federal agency has a mandate to eradicate the disease as well as the power with which to do so.

The breed traces its bloodlines back to mid-19th century England, and at one point was one of the most popular types of sheep in North America, Jones says. Today, however, there are fewer than 170 of the animals in Canada. Jones has about half of those, with more than half her flock — including five of the country's 21 remaining rams — slated for slaughter. She's urging supporters to come to her farm Monday morning to demonstrate against the cull. About 4,400 people have signed a petition so far.

Shropshire sheep are known for their high-quality wool and meat, but animals with a particular set of genes are more susceptible to scrapie than other sheep and goats. It's those animals on Jones's farm that the CFIA is targeting.

Scrapie is part of a class of ailments called spongiform encephalopathies and is similar to mad cow disease. There is no evidence it affects humans.

Comment: Joel Salatin, America’s best known farmer, agricultural activist, and author of Folks This Ain’t Normal, says the “CFIA’s intent to annihilate the Wholearth flock of Shropshire sheep owned by Montana Jones is deeply troubling,”  “Without credible tests that empirically prove the existence of scrapie, to proceed with the planned extermination is both unscientific and tyrannical.”

Darcee Jean Gundlock, owner and moderator of the Goats Canada e-mail list for the past 13 years says she can vouch for the fact that goat breeders do not support the Scrapie Program. Those voluntarily participating have indicated that it is poorly run and ineffective. The topic has been widely discussed over the past few years and the consencus is that there is no industry to support it.

She says she has contacted her MP and received a reply that the CFIA had consulted and received the unanimous consent of the sheep and goat industries on the matter of these heritage sheep and their destruction. Gundlock claims this is to be an outright lie and is demanding that the CFIA produce written documentation substantiating its claims. If documentation isn’t forthcoming, an immediate review of the operations and scope of the CFIA is requested.  There are critical problems with the CFIA and the Harper government’s bullying and control tactics, as the public is finding out. Democracy in this country is being seriously undermined.