Warning, graphic content described below.
B.C. Dairy Association has launched a formal investigation into the death of a mutilated calf that was found in a ditch by Sylvester Road near Mission Tuesday.
The association was contacted by the Ministry of Agriculture Tuesday morning, said Trevor Hargreaves director of producer relations. He said the initial report indicated there were two calf carcasses.
“It was a photo of two carcasses in a ditch with the information, this is in Mission,” said Hargreaves.
The challenge was to take that information and find the right location.
After a lengthy search, a calf’s body was eventually found on a street off Sylvester Road, with the bulk of its ears cut off, leaving it without any tags and unidentifiable.
“This is a very odd turn of events today,” Hargreaves said. “Removing ear tags is very concerning.”
Hargreaves estimated the calf had been in the water-filled ditch for about two weeks.
While only one calf carcass was discovered by Hargreaves, Mission resident Angelica Reid – who first reported the incident – says there are many more.
Reid told the Mission Record, through Facebook, that she found several more carcasses after Hargreaves and his team left.
“I have some bodies that they can test. Most are still there. We found these after they left,” she wrote, adding that “other bodies have been moved already.”
Reid also wrote that she has pictures of the dead animals and she plans on contacting Hargreaves.
For now, Hargreaves is focusing on the one calf they have found.
The association has since contacted the five commercial dairy producers that operate out of Mission, but have ruled all of them out as the culprit.
Hargreaves said the association is now working closely with the BC SPCA and the ministry.
The calf has been shipped to the province’s head veterinarian to determine cause of death.
Hargreaves called the incident “very disturbing,” and “out of industry practice.”
When an animal dies, farmers have two options considered standard protocol: to hire an external company to take the deceased animal to a rendering plant, or to properly disposed of the animal in a composting system located on their farm.
Hargreaves said it will take a few days to determine exactly how the calf died.
He also said that investigators “have a suspect farm in mind.”
“I think we should have some pretty quick answers to this,” he added.
Hargreaves does not believe a commercial dairy farm is responsible for the carcasses. He said all signs are pointing to a regional hobby farm operation.