A roundup of coverage from Toronto newspapers:
From Adrian Morrow in the Globe and Mail:
“A flock of a rare breed of sheep is ordered destroyed after one of its members tests positive for a deadly disease. Before they can be culled, the animals are kidnapped in the dead of night, only to turn up weeks later on a farm several hours away. Now, an outspoken raw-milk activist says federal investigators raided his property, looking for clues in the case.
But the bizarre mystery hanging over a group of Eastern Ontario ovines has only deepened.
It began in 2010, when a Shropshire sheep from Wholearth Farmstudio in Trent Hills died of scrapie, a neurological illness. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency quarantined Wholearth’s flock of Shropshires – a rare heritage breed – and ultimately directed the herd be slaughtered.
The night before they were slated to be killed in April, someone kidnapped all 31 of them from Wholearth, leaving behind a note saying the animals were in “protective custody.” It was signed by a group calling itself the Farmers’ Peace Corps. Farm owner Montana Jones denied having anything to do with the abduction.
Twenty-six of the sheep were eventually found nearly 300 kilometres away, on a farm in Grey County, and were killed. The others are still missing.
Michael Schmidt, a prominent dairy farmer who has battled the province to legalize unpasteurized milk, waded into the fray to act as an unofficial spokesman for the Farmers’ Peace Corps.
At 7 a.m. on Thursday, he says, CFIA investigators armed with search warrants arrived at his farm to seize computers and cellphones. He would not discuss his exact connection to the Farmers’ Peace Corps, but said he is being investigated on suspicion of conspiracy.
And he continues to criticize the government’s handling of the file.
“This is insanity, when you look at the issue of genetic diversity,” he said of the decision to euthanize the Shropshires. “This forceful approach distracts from the issue.”…”
Read more in the Globe and Mail.
From Donovan Vincent, in the Toronto Star:
“The outspoken farmer waging a battle for the right to distribute unpasteurized milk is at the centre of another legal storm — this time over the disappearance of a flock of rare sheep.
Michael Schmidt says police and Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) officials raided his Durham, Ont., farm last Thursday, seizing cellphones and computers.
The eight-hour raid, which began at 7 a.m., was in connection with 31 sheep the CFIA says were illegally removed on April 2 from a quarantined farm in eastern Ontario. That farm, operated by Linda “Montana’’ Jones, was also raided last week.
Schmidt, Jones, Robert Pinnell and Miro Malish are named on a search warrant alleging that under the Health of Animals Act the four obstructed an inspector and caused a quarantined animal to be removed.
The warrant also alleges the four conspired to commit those offences, a breach of the Criminal Code.
No charges have been laid in the unusual case.
The Shropshire sheep, a rare heritage breed, were removed from Jones’s Wholearth Farmstudio, a Northumberland County farm that protects the genetics of heritage livestock.
The animals had been placed under quarantine by officials with the inspection agency, which found two cases of scrapie, a fatal neurological disease of sheep and goats. The disease was confirmed in a sheep that recently died on the farm, the agency said, adding a second sheep from there also tested positive.
While there is no human health risk associated with the disease, it has serious consequences for sheep and the CFIA aims to eradicate it from Canada.
Once the single case was identified, the CFIA decided to destroy Jones’s entire flock in large part because the spread of the disease could put the livestock industry at risk, the agency said.
That’s when the animals suddenly disappeared and the Ontario Provincial Police was called in….”
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