From Loon Lake Road – Livestock and domestic dogs

Barbara Hendricks' monthly column of community news and events along rural Loon Lake Road.

Hot time in the Cariboo

The August long weekend was notable for two small wildfires that were started by lightning and quickly attended by the Wildfire Management staff with several water bombers and helicopters.

Over 100 fires were started that weekend in the Cariboo fire region alone – so one can be sure that staff of the Wildfire branch did not have any time for relaxation.

A change in seasons

Sights and sounds in my garden tell me that summer has peaked and a new season about to begin. Red tomatoes on the vine, lettuce in flower, young robins everywhere and Clark’s nutcrackers practising their choral works are prominent features these days. Also, bears are leaving their telltale signs on the road and the deer are changing the colour of their coats. It is time to pick all your tree fruit if you don’t want bears in your trees.

Squirrels are falling cones which thud to the ground making a great deal of noise when the cone hits a vehicle or metal roof. Night time low temperatures of 5C degrees also indicate that it will soon be time to say farewell to the more tender flowers and garden produce.

It has been a good summer, hot and dry, at Loon Lake Road; fishing has been good, the weather cooperative for the most, and people have had time to relax with family and friends.

Dogs and livestock

Neighbours and dogs are once again in the news and under discussion. This time it is the provincial court judge’s ruling that a rancher on the Bonaparte Plateau, who shot a dog that was chasing her cattle, was guilty under the criminal code of unlawfully killing an animal.

Times have changed and it is for the better that animal welfare is given greater priority and owners who abuse or neglect their animals can be charged. This case however is problematic. The dog was chasing the cattle but had moved on when the rancher shot the dog – about the time required to go to the house and get a rifle.

The judge ruled that the dog was not acting maliciously when it was chasing and barking at the cattle in a pen as there was no proof that the dog had bit or caused injury to the cattle.

So now ranchers need to be able to read the mind of the attacking animal. Do they need to evaluate if it is just playing and having fun at the expense of the cattle and calves or if is it after blood and wants to make a meal of one of them? If it is just having fun the rancher should let it be?

The BC Cattleman’s Association is asking the BC Government to amend the livestock act to clarify when and under what circumstances a rancher can protect their livestock from dogs that are harassing their animals. This is a good thing to ask for.

Under the Livestock Act “a person may kill a dog if the person finds the dog (a) running at large, and (b) attacking or viciously pursuing livestock.”

The Cattleman’s Assoc wants definitions of the words attack, pursue and vicious to assist ranchers to determine how to handle future incidents.

In my opinion, a dog owner who does not have their dog under control when off their property should be heavily fined, even if it is just “playing” at chasing cattle with no “malicious” intent. The word of the rancher that the dog was chasing livestock should be sufficient without having to produce proof of cuts and bites to the animals.

This decision is a city bred decision that has no place in rural agricultural life. Otherwise what can we expect next – maybe when a bear kills a calf, the bear shouldn’t be shot because it was hungry and it was just doing what bears do.

Noxious knapweed

On road trips along Loon Lake Road and other service roads this month, one could see the telltale purple blossoms of the spotted knapweed everywhere. It has taken over the roadside in many places and invaded open spaces and meadows adjacent to the roads. It is sad to see that this weed is quickly pushing out the native plants.

This weed is classified as a provincial noxious weed and the B.C. Weed Control Act states that it is the duty of all land occupiers to control this and all other designated noxious plants.

It is unfortunate that this message hasn’t got through to the provincial government and its departments, such as the Ministry of Transport. Some of us pull every knapweed we see on our property only to have a new seeding drift in from the roadside or the neighbour’s field. If we all make an effort we can continue to enjoy the beauty of our native plants and keep these pests under control.

It appears that the TNRD’s biological controls do not work and they seem to have given up on doing anything about this and other noxious weeds.

Putting up the harvest

It is seed saving time as well as harvesting and processing food for winter use. Pickling, dehydrating and other modern and traditions preserving methods are all in use here, however I am finding I am tending to go back more to the tradition recipes and methods. The modern chefs and cookbook writers have some good ideas but there are also centuries of experience in the older recipes and methods.

Vacuum sealers are mixed in with pickling crocks and drying racks to ensure that all the work of planting, growing and harvesting can be savoured during the coming winter months.

Shift into Fall

Labour Day weekend means back to school, school buses and a new season of chores and recreational activities. This fall will mark the 60th year that the school bus has run on Loon Lake Road.

Many of our sunny weather residents will be thinking of packing up and migrating to their winter quarters in the next month or so.

Thanks everyone for a good summer and a safe journey to all.

Barbara Hendricks