Vanishing sheep caught and killed but donít have scrapie
HASTINGS ó The case of the vanishing sheep from an Eastern Ontario farm has been solved. At least 26 of the 31 missing sheep were found on a Western Ontario farm.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) had them rounded up and killed on June 11 because of fear of scrapie, a fatal neurological disease, in the herd. Test results later found that the 26 sheep did not have scrapie, the CFIA reported.
Montana Jonesí flock of about 31 Shropshire sheep, east of Peterborough, had been quarantined since 2010 when an Alberta sheep originating from Jonesí farm tested positive for scrapie. The CFIA had planned to destroy the rare breed on April 2, the morning they were stolen.
A group calling themselves the Farmersí Peace Crops claimed responsibility for the abduction in a handwritten note left in the barn. Raw milk activist Michael Schmidt is the spokesman for the so-called peace corps and his raw milk case has been championed by lawyer Karen Selick, who is also Montana Jonesís lawyer.
"These test results are consistent with the CFIAís experience with scrapie in Canada," said a CFIA press release June 21. "A typical infected flock or herd sees an infection rate anywhere between three per cent and 30 per cent. Two sheep from the farm in Eastern Ontario had previously tested positive for scrapie."
Scrapie can spread among sheep and goats without showing signs in the infected animals for several years, the CFIA says. "Unfortunately, all genetically susceptible animals exposed to scrapie must be humanely euthanized to allow for conclusive testing. This approach ensures the disease does not spread within the national flock."
Scrapie belongs to the same family of diseases as mad cow disease.
The CFIA also says that the control measures taken are based on internationally-accepted science and are supported by the Canadian sheep and goat industries.
While there is no known human health risk associated with scrapie, it has serious impacts on sheep and goat production and trade and the CFIA goal is to eradicate it from Canada. A quarantines remains in place on both farms while the investigation continues.