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Neighbours left frustrated after years of cows roaming free in N.B. area

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After dealing with roaming cows for the past several years, Gerald Aldward’s New Brunswick yard was quiet on Thursday afternoon.

“One night I got up here and there was somewhere around 25-30 laying on my lawn,” he said. “I think that day it took me half a day to clean the manure off of the yard.”

He’s also not the only one who’s had to deal with the unwanted visitors due to downed fences on a nearby farm.

“This whole settlement, everybody’s had damage, thousands of dollars worth of damage to their property and I think the only thing now is these cattle have got to go because they’re not going to stay,” said Aldward. “They’ve been out so long that cattle once they’re out, they’re hard to keep in and if there’s no fences, they’re really hard to keep in.”

They’re also more than just a nuisance to nearby land owners. One neighbour told CTV News off camera they’ve actually been chased by one cow while walking their dog. Other safety concerns have been brought forward as well.

“When the school bus goes out every morning and we’ve got him waiting and tooting his horn for cows to get off the road or if someone drives through here at night with these black cattle, they’re not going to see them if they’re on the road until they hit them,” said Aldward. “Most of the people are seniors, they’re not able to chase cattle and really shouldn’t have to chase cattle.”

Tony Porter, chief animal protection officer with the New Brunswick SPCA, says calls regarding agricultural animals have been on the rise.

In 2022 they made up five per cent of the SPCA’s total calls and last year 10 per cent of their total calls were about livestock.

“Of those, last year, we had 77 calls involving livestock at large. Now in a case like that there’s no legislation governing the enforcement of livestock at large,” said Porter.

He says while aware of complaints in the area, he can’t speak to this specific case, noting the SPCA follows the code of practices that’s given out by the National Farm Animal Care Council of Canada.

“It gives recommendations, best practices and requirements,” he said. “Under the code of practice for the code of beef cattle in this country, there’s nothing in the legislation that covers them having to be fenced in by wiring or whatever. There is for horses, but that’s one of the very few that there are.”

Porter says animals at large aren’t necessarily a legal animal abuse situation, but it is a safety issue for the animal.

“When we do get calls like that, we attend those locations where the animals are running large, no matter where it may be from here to all corners of the province,” he said. “When we attend those locations we also look at the conditions of those animals on the farms, on the property and we look for everything from food, shelter, water, care. It gives us to opportunity to go and see if there are any other issues that are animal protection.”

In a statement to CTV News, the minister responsible for Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries said the department has advised the farmer about fencing strategies.

“In the fall of 2023, departmental staff visited the farmer and advised them on best practices to fix any fencing issues,” the statement reads. “Earlier this month, provincial veterinarians, along with the NBSPCA, revisited the farm to evaluate the animals and situation. We also reminded the farmer of fencing strategies.

“If the issue cannot be resolved adequately to the satisfaction of neighbours, there is the option for neighbours to resolve farm-related nuisance disputes through the Agricultural Operation Practices Act.”

The neighbours said they’ve reached out to the RCMP, SPCA and local politicians, and don’t feel enough, if anything, has been done.

“We’re just getting completely fed up. No one wants to seem to do anything,” said Aldward. “I’d far sooner get along with my neighbour than fight with my neighbour. I actually had beef cattle myself years ago and I enjoy animals, I just don’t like to see animals being used this way and not being controlled either.” 

For more New Brunswick news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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