A pregnant ewe was enjoying her lunch of hay on Tuesday. But last year, her owners were not sure she’d survive after a dog attack.
“This year, we’ve probably had five incidents with two groups of dogs, and lost in the neighbourhood of twenty sheep.”
John and Lorraine Buchanan started Parry Bay Sheep Farm in Metchosin nearly 40 years ago. But every year, they lose sheep to cougars and bears. Those losses are covered by the province. The Capital Regional District (CRD) also pays them when dogs kill their sheep. But an amendment before the CRD could change that.
“There was a proposal going to the board on Wednesday that compensation for dog kills of sheep, and goats, any farm animal, was going to be discontinued. And it could affect us. It could affect all farming,” John Buchanan said.
The proposal would stop paying farmers 75 per cent of the value of the livestock killed by dogs. But Metchosin Mayor John Ranns said even though it’s not a lot of money, it could hurt farming in the region.
“I’ve seen this happen here before where so many sheep have been killed that farmers have gotten out of the business, and that’s unfortunate,” Ranns said.
CRD director Mike Hicks said the item is on the agenda for the board’s meeting Wednesday. “It’s an old policy, so I asked for it to be dissolved, so we wouldn’t be paying anymore. Since then, the story’s come out in the news, I’ve received a lot of knowledge from my constituents, and farmers, saying, you know they need the support,” Hicks said.
After initially putting forward the proposal, CRD director Mike Hicks said he now supports Buchanan and other farmers.
“John explained to me that bear and cougar attacks are covered by the province, but dogs are covered, currently, by the CRD. And he just says that he needs that support because multiple incidents, the insurance companies don’t look favourably at that, and it could affect his insurance. To the point, he couldn’t be a farmer,” Hicks said.
Hicks says the item remains on the agenda for Wednesday’s CRD meeting, but not expected to pass.