Shared redress urged for livestock killed by dogs

All municipalities and electoral areas in the capital region should share the cost of compensating farmers for livestock killed by dogs, says Juan de Fuca Electoral Area director Mike Hicks.

Hicks is planning to introduce a notice of motion with that intent to the CRD board. He suggests that the 13 municipalities and three electoral areas join together to make it a regional service “so that we all contribute and we fund all livestock throughout the CRD that are injured by dogs.”

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“If all combine, it will cost us pennies and all the farmers will be covered, which they are not [now],” he said.

Hicks’s comments came after his proposal to amend the animal control bylaw to eliminate compensation for farmers was referred back to staff.

The referral was so staff could come back with a way the region’s three electoral areas — Juan de Fuca, Salt Spring Island and the Southern Gulf Islands — could decide independently whether to participate in any compensation plan.

Hicks said it’s important the electoral areas be given the opportunity to decide for themselves whether they want to participate. Up to this year, only six jurisdictions were participating in the service: Sooke, Highlands, Metchosin and the three electoral areas.

Metchosin Mayor John Ranns, who supports the CRD compensating farmers for the dog kills, says there’s confusion at the CRD as to whether the region will still provide compensation.

CRD administration maintains its policy has been changed and it is up to individual municipalities to compensate farmers for losses to dogs, Ranns said.

Ranns disagrees.

“The board did not debate this and the board did not decide that,” he said.

Ranns said the latest contract Metchosin signed with the region for animal control still has a compensation clause. “The CRD collects the dog licences. They collect the fines. They keep all of that money and, in part, that’s for providing the [animal control] service, but it’s also for compensating the farmers,” Ranns said. “As far as I’m concerned, the contract remains in effect as it was written, which is the compensation stays the way it was.”

If the CRD decides it’s not going to pay for sheep kills, Metchosin would have to review whether it wanted to continue with the CRD for animal control. Ranns said. Under the existing bylaw, the CRD compensates farmers for 75 per cent of the value of the livestock — up to $750 an animal — for losses due to dog attacks.

The CRD has processed 10 claims in the past 15 years, staff say, noting that the two most recent claims have been for $2,043.75 and $4,500, respectively.

The CRD policy has been required to compensate for livestock losses only if attacks are carried out by an unknown dog or dogs. If the farmer knows the owner of a dog involved in a attack, it is farmer’s responsibility to seek compensation.

bcleverley@timescolonist.com

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