A beef farmer from northwestern Ontario is searching for answers after he was forced to euthanize a pregnant 29 month-old cow after it was shot October 10 in an apparent hunting accident.
“We’ve got 15 cows and 15 calves on pasture,” said Barwick-area producer Allen Jolicoeur in a recent interview. “My son went down in the morning to feed hay and only 14 cows came up. So he went to find her. And when he got back there, the ravens were flying around her.”
Why it matters: The Ontario Wildlife Damage Compensation Program (OWDCP) does not cover gunshot wounds to animals, and there are few other ways to be reimbursed for an animal killed on a farm by gunshot.
“I really think farmers in Ontario need to know about this,” Jolicoeur told Farmtario.
Attempts to determine if any typical farm insurance policies would cover such a loss through inquiries by both Jolicoeur and the office for Kenora-Rainy River MPP Greg Rickford, have so far turned up nothing.
Jolicoeur says his insurance policy did not cover the cow shooting.
Other farm insurance policies examined by Farmtario appear to cover animal shootings, but haven’t been tested by a claim.
The cow was shot just before the start of deer season. Jolicoeur said he contacted the agencies he believes have jurisdiction to investigate hunting-related offences — the Fort Frances office of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) and the Rainy River detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) — but no investigation was launched.
MNRF’s Fort Frances work unit manager Staff Sgt. Grant Painter told Farmtario that his office “has no record that (the Ministry was) contacted” by Jolicoeur. He added the local MNRF office was made aware of the incident when it was contacted by police who “advised that the OPP were responding and investigating.”
A spokesperson at the OPP’s Rainy River detachment would not confirm that a police investigation was initiated. Instead, Farmtario was advised to file a Freedom of Information request with the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services.
“If that had been a deer shot out in my field, both the cops and the MNR would have been there within a few minutes,” Jolicoeur said, adding that deer had been shot on his property in the past.
He has never had to deal with a cow being shot before, but it was his understanding that the provincial government provided compensation.
“Not only did I lose the cow, but I lost the calf that was inside her. And the calf that she was nursing, instead of weighing 600 pounds now, it weighs about 300 pounds. Because it’s not getting any milk.”
Jolicoeur said the sole investigation that was initiated was for OWDCP compensation. For that, a Township of Chapple representative visited the farm to document the incident, but compensation was later denied.
“A compensation decision of $0.00 has been determined for your application based on the documented evidence provided,” states a letter sent to Jolicoeur on November 6 from OWDCP program administrator Jane Widdecombe.
The OWDCP website cites a list of predator-caused deaths to livestock as eligible for compensation. “Claims for livestock… injured or killed from gunshots do not qualify, therefore this claim for compensation has been declined,” noted Widdecombe’s letter.
Jolicoeur is supported in his search for answers by Rickford’s local constituency office. But a spokesperson for the office told Farmtario that calls to various agencies had so far not yielded results.
In January 2017, a farming family near Rivers, Man., reported a pregnant cow shot dead in what they believed to be a deliberate act. And in late November of this year, a family near Consort, Alta., reported three animals deliberately shot.
However, Painter said “MNRF is not aware of any other (similar) occurrences in the Fort Frances area” in the past five years.