Scattered cattle becomes prey after someone cuts down farm fence

by Isabel Mosseler
Tribune


It was distressing news for area farmers to learn last week that, due to mischief, over 71 cattle will likely perish in the bush in the Hagar area. The OPP released a statement asking for public assistance in an incident in which 92 head of cattle escaped the Dan Switzer beef farm between August 6 and September 16, because someone took down his fence and his gate. Const. Michelle Coulombe, OPP media relations, said on September 27, “Some of them came back but there are still 71 that are outstanding and haven’t been found yet. There’s a bush line, it’s a huge property of 300 acres backed up against bush.” Adding to the distress is that most of the cattle are pregnant and about to give birth. “That’s one of the worries now, that they have had their calf and are not going to survive.” Coulombe confirmed that Dan Switzer hired a helicopter and a drone operator to survey the area, however she hadn’t heard the results of the surveillance yet. 

Coulombe said that there are issues before the courts pertaining to the property, though it is unknown if this incident is related to the dispute. Still, she said it was obviously a deliberate act. “I don’t know why they caused this mischief…. They took their time to disassemble this gate and fence, to lay it down so the cows could walk off the property. They were at it for awhile.” Police are hoping for some clues. “If someone does have information, sees the cows or cattle, or hears something, please call [Dan Switzer] or us.” The estimated loss is between $100,000 and $240,000.

Dan Switzer was eager to speak out because the action could affect many farmers in the area, as the missing cattle are being killed off by predators, and those predators may become increasingly emboldened. “We’re finding them dead in the bush now. We found four last night with the drone. They’re roaming through the bush… I was calling them. We don’t hear them anymore,” he said Friday.

Switzer is extremely upset at the horrific nature of the deed. Asked if there were any indications of cattle rustling, he said, “We thought that at first, but where the cattle got out, somebody took their time… They are all brand new fences. The cows had been in that pasture for about a month... new pasture… When they came out, there were 348 head into the pasture, half hadn’t had their calves yet. Of the ones missing, 73 I think, almost every one are calving – so right now, calving was supposed to start September 1st, so there is blood everywhere. The coyotes and wolves are having a great time… You don’t want to know how I feel. There’s a pain in my chest.”

He continued, “As far as the animals, there is no insurance on them except for liability, and that was in case they got out and caused damage, hurt somebody, or if someone comes on the property and a bull tramples them – it was just liability, not loss or damage.” The troubles aren’t new. Switzer has observed an ATV that took off when he approached. “I’ve had my fences opened 8 times in the last four years. It’s an ongoing thing.” 

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