Two farmers in Metchosin have become sick and tired of their sheep being attacked.
At the Stillmeadow Farm, roughly 125 sheep peacefully roam through the fields, but in recent years, their peace has been greatly disturbed.
“People are walking unleashed dogs through the farm when we have lambs afoot and some of the dogs, when they’re unleashed, are uncontrolled and they attack our sheep,” said farmer Tom Henry. He and his wife Violaine run the farm.
Over 60 years ago, Violaine’s grandfather designated part of the land as a “right of way” for locals to walk through. It’s called the “Sea Bluff Trail” and in the 1980s it became public land.
For years, this wasn’t an issue, but recently off-leash dogs have wreaked havoc.
“It happens every day. We don’t get kills every day, but people refusing to leash their dogs. They don’t recognize that even the nicest dog can go haywire when they see lambs gambolling,” Henry said.
Anywhere from three to eight lambs are killed per year on average. Each of being worth around $350, but it’s not the financial hit that bothers the farm.
“It’s the sense of failure as a farmer. Our job is to protect these animals. And cougars and bears are quite difficult, but dammit you should be able to put a leash on a dog for the short period you walk through this field,” Henry said.
Despite a growing frustration, Henry and his wife don’t want to have to pursue legal action to take away the public access, however, they’re calling for more respect from dog owners.
“It’s the tradition of the farm for people to walk through this farm, it’s a very public farm and we do not want to stop them,” Henry said.