West Hants council concerned with dumping of animal carcasses

Carole Morris-Underhill
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Published on January 07, 2014

Bones lay scattered in this field after being left to the elements and picked clean by scavenger animals. (Submitted photo)

Published on January 07, 2014

Left to the elements, and animals looking for a meal, a dead calf decomposes. It’s the disposal of carcasses like this that Coun. Randy Matheson hopes to see addressed. (Submitted photo)

Published on January 07, 2014

What appears to be a small, dead calf is left on top of the snow to slowly decompose, or be eaten by animals. (Submitted photo)

Published on January 07, 2014

Brooklyn Coun. Randy Matheson is advocating to have the provincial government examine the disposal method of dead livestock at a local Hants County farm. (Submitted photo)

Published on January 07, 2014

Coun. Randy Matheson expressed concern over the disposal of dead animals at a Brooklyn-area farm. (Submitted photo)

Published on January 07, 2014

Animal bones, picked clean, lay strewn across a farmer’s field in Brooklyn. (Submitted photo)

Published on January 07, 2014

Animal bones, picked clean, lay strewn across a farmer’s field in Brooklyn. (Submitted photo)

Published on January 07, 2014

Photos depicting livestock in various stages of decomposition recently caused West Hants council to request Nova Scotia’s premier to direct the proper agency to examine the situation. (Submitted photo)

Premier requested to intervene, select appropriate department to investigate

A West Hants municipal councillor is fearful someone will get attacked by coyotes if a farming operation in Brooklyn continues to dispose of livestock in a manner he considers unsafe.

Coun. Randy Matheson shared his concerns with council in December, showing them photos of animal carcasses in various stages of decay. Sometimes entire bodies are left to rot in the field — something that troubles Matheson.

“Common sense would tell you that this can't be allowed to happen and it is being allowed to happen,” said Matheson in an interview following the council meeting.

“It should've been handled six months ago, when it was first brought to their attention. It should've been done immediately.”

At the Dec. 10 meeting, council unanimously agreed to send a letter to Stephen McNeil, the premier of Nova Scotia, asking for him to have the appropriate department investigate the issue. The letter was carbon-copied to the departments of Agriculture, Environment and Health, as well as to Hants West MLA Chuck Porter.

Matheson said the disposal of the animals is unhealthy, attracts coyotes and in turn, poses a safety risk for residents enjoying a stroll on a nearby trail.

“Also, all of that sludge and guck winds up in the brook,” he said in the interview.

During the council meeting, Matheson discussed the situation at the farm, which was never referred to by name.

“There is a property owner in my community of Brooklyn, who is throwing animal parts in the field — heads, feet, guts. They're doing a lot of killing because they are a farm,” said Matheson.

He said that coyotes are then feeding on the carcasses, noting that for the scavenger animals, it's a buffet spread. Since the wild animals are being fed, he says they won't be as afraid of humans as they should be. This, he says, could spell trouble for the municipality should the animals attack someone.

Matheson said municipal staff has tried, unsuccessfully, to get the situation examined for nearly a year. With a school and walking trail within the vicinity, Matheson said he felt compelled to act.

“The point is I don't care if it's us or them or who it is, this shouldn't be allowed,” he said.

West Hants Warden Richard Dauphinee agreed with council apprising the premier of the matter.

“I do believe we're certainly opening up a can of something here. But, it's a can that needs to be opened,” said Dauphinee, pointing out that the municipality has been promoting their natural walking trails.

Deputy Warden Gary Cochrane said other farmers dispose of animals in a similar fashion, though not necessarily to the same extent as what he saw in the photos.

“I agree with the motion itself but I am going to be very anxious to see the response from the Department of Agriculture because this is not an isolated case. I know of other operations that are doing the same thing,” he said, later adding, “It is going to open up, literally, a can of worms.”

Council also unanimously agreed to involve their planning staff, asking them to send a representative to the site to ensure that the municipal bylaws concerning farm operations are being followed.

Further discussion on this issue by council is anticipated once the municipality receives a response from the provincial government.

Organizations: West Hants council, Department of Agriculture

Geographic location: Brooklyn, Hants, Nova Scotia Hants County West Hants

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Recent comments

  • Essle Wayne
    Essle Wayne
    February 04, 2014 - 08:04

    Phone books are a million-dollar information market. Errors in phone books have resulted in everything from decreased listings to regulatory investigations. Phone book provider Dex has been filed suit against for incorrectly listing a BBQ diner below "carcass removal".

  • Tracey
    January 18, 2014 - 19:05

    I am not looking to get into a debate with anyone, but I would like to state some facts. This farmer does not own the land, he just farms it. Concerns were made regarding his farming practices and the environmental impact it could be having on the community. After years of trying to deal with this privately, the lack of cooperation on the farmer's part made it necessary to involve council. They voted unanimously that this was an issue that needed to be investigated. Citizen is right...there is more to this than what was in the article, some of which has been discussed at council meetings [anyone may attend]. A few of the issues have been cleaned up, some covered up. This is not personal and it is not a family feud. It is simply a family wanting to maintain a family farm the way it should be- not allowing it to be left in a state that future generations will have to clean up. Katie and KC, it's hard to know how to respond to your comments. I assume you are being fed information from one side. This is likely because only one side has been canvassing the community with their 'story'. Perhaps I need to clarify a few things for you. When the school was built the farm was already in existence, but not the butcher shop. Dumping of the animal by-products has not been going since the shop opened. It started when it became cheaper and more convenient to do so. Carcasses are never buried, summer or winter. Also, as far as I know, Citizen is not a family member as you have implied. Just a concerned citizen. I am a part of this family, and I appreciate all of his/her informed comments and concerns.

  • Rocket Surgen
    January 17, 2014 - 20:28

    Citizen, keep up the good work it is a joy to read your posts. Katie if you could please post your civic address I would be more then happy to bring by any of our meat scraps to help you protect your children and pets from wild animals. And if something has been done for many years how can it be wrong. Change sucks!

    • Katie
      January 18, 2014 - 10:44

      I'm not going to keep repeating myself for people that can't read or comprehend my previous posts. It is pointless. There are no legality's to back the these complaints. I support our local farmers!

    • Rocket Surgen
      January 18, 2014 - 16:34

      Well said Katie

  • Katie Parker
    January 17, 2014 - 13:05

    Citizen: again you have come back with another narrow minded, immature and asinine comment. I did not say it was a good idea to feed coyotes or that it would stop attacks. I hope that my family never encounters a coyote; however, if one my family members or my pets were to meet up with a coyote, I am sure one with a full stomach is much less dangerous than a starving one. There was a deadly attack in Cape Breton in 2009, and guess what, there was not a poor farmer to blame it on! This is problem that is wide spread all over Eastern Canada, wherein coyotes sighting are in our parks and school yards all over the country. Biologist and wild life experts have lost of information about co-existing with coyotes and nowhere does it suggest for a farmer to stop farming. Trying to blame the coyote population in the area on one farm is obscured. The key to this problem is to educate our children and our (citizen)s on how to deal with a coyote encounter and to always be prepared. I have educated my children on this issue long ago and whenever we are walking, whether it be at the school or Smiley’s Park, or any other area surrounded by forest, we are always prepared. Your comments are proving that this is nothing more than a family feud, with you hiding behind the name citizen. Loving mother of two & pet owner of four, I ask you to educate your loved ones. What should I do if a coyote approaches me? Children and adults alike should be BIG, BRAVE and LOUD BIG: Stand up tall, put arms over your head BRAVE: Stand your ground, don’t run away and be confident and assertive, throw rocks, sticks or objects towards the coyote LOUD: Shout “Go Away Coyote” in a deep, loud voice What should I do if the coyote keeps approaching me? Do not turn away or run. Continue to exaggerate the above actions, be more aggressive Do not corner it, or chase it if you suspect pups are nearby Keep constant eye contact with the coyote and continue to move towards other people, a building or an area of activity.

  • kc
    January 17, 2014 - 11:10

    Citizen (whoever you might be) I am glad you could come back with an educated reply. What didn't I read or not understand? The DNR did say not to feed wild animals but were they talking about a farm or someone's backyard? That might help you understand it better. The DNR also said "make sure garbage is not left laying around, remove pet food, compost, or garbage from outside your doorstep at night". The schools have garbage cans outside and I know they are not changed everyday and do kids always put garbage in the garbage cans? No they don't. Your comment "So I guess creating one next door to a school doesn't apply"? Let me ask you, who was there first? The farm was and when the school was deciding where to build, they knew the farm was that close and that the farmer butchered and put the leftovers in the field. So, if they were concerned don't you think they would have built in another location? Yes I did say that is food they don't have to work for and I did say that we should be happy that they are not eating our pets and us because they are not eating our pets and us. Did I say that would prevent an attack? No, I did not, so again don't put words in my mouth! So, go back and read it again if you need too. I said that having a school and farm that close is NOT an ideal situation! Not that feeding the coyotes is a great idea just that "As most people know, if you do encounter a coyote in the wild, a hungry one is much more dangerous than one with a full belly". The DNR put their road kill out for predatory animals to eat! Open-minded would be the last words I would use to describe you! I don't care if you watched National Geographic Special, your university training obviously doesn't help you here. What you are missing is that the farmer is following the entire guidelines and regulations of the Department of Agriculture NS has set out for farmers. So you suggesting that the farmer is disregarding rules or coming up with "THEIR OWN IDEAS" "maybe you should try to learn, maybe listen" then hopefully you will get it!

  • kc
    January 16, 2014 - 15:50

    Ok citizen maybe you need to hear it from a wildlife expert or biologist but you would be the only one. Where do you think they go when their forests are being cut down? Do you think the coyotes grow wings and take to the sky? No they move to other WOODS EVEN IN OUR BACKYARDS AND BY OUR SCHOOLS! As I stated before, common sense. Why don’t you find a wildlife expert or biologist that disagrees with that! Yes by the sounds of your last comment, you need to learn some common sense. I did not say that clear cutting is the whole problem! Maybe you should get some assistants reviewing my comments again and maybe you will be able to comprehend them as you seem to be having a lot of difficulty!

    • Citizen
      January 16, 2014 - 21:39

      The part of this that I don't get is how a person quotes something written by DNR and either doesn't read it or doesn't understand it. It's says to limit human/ coyote interactions a potential food source should be eliminated. So I guess creating one next door to a school doesn't apply? Where is the logic? In your first post you suggested that keeping the coyotes fed with meat by products is a good thing because it's " food they don't have to work for" and will keep them from attacking people or their pets! That's not putting words in your mouth, that's here in print for whoever wants to read it. You directly suggested that feeding coyotes is a good idea, and then you posted a DNR recommendation not to....... So which one is it? I haven't seen a DNR recommendation that feeding predatory animals is a good idea yet, so maybe if you're so good at finding links you can find that one too. I know that I'm not a biologist, but I'm open minded enough that I'd probably see what they think about it and draw conclusions based at least partly on that. Years of university training in a specific field of study definitely means more than the national geographic special I watched on Sunday night, you know what I mean? So when they mention a SPECIFIC list of things to do to limit problems, and someone totally disregards it and comes up with THEIR OWN IDEA "common sense" of what they feel is wrong......... I really just don't know what to say. I'd probably try to learn, maybe listen, I don't know.......... I guess common sense isn't so common after all? Katie....... Is feeding the coyotes still a good idea? It was on Jan 10. Have you looked into that at all? No? And I'm uneducated? Signing off as as pet owner and mother that supports feeding predatory animals so they won't need to hunt? I give up........... I don't know what to say......... Maybe DNR will start throwing road kill in schoolyards, and in areas with shark problems they'll start dumping dead seals in the water, and people on safari in Africa will leave raw hamburger outside their tent...... And all animal attacks will cease. Could work, it's common sense that if we keep them fed they'll leave us alone right?

  • kc
    January 14, 2014 - 20:09

    Citizen, I do not see how my statement “directly contradicts everything that DNR is suggesting to limit human/coyote confrontations”. Let me quote DNR on how can people reduce coyote interactions: “Make sure garbage is not left laying around, remove pet food, compost, or garbage from outside your doorstep at night. Do not feed wild animals. Do not leave pets unattended or unprotected outdoors.” I merely stated another contribution to the coyote issue. It is not at all personal theory, its common sense, that clear-cutting attributes to the problem. “Wildlife experts or biologist” lol! This is not one sided, wherein this farm is attracting the coyote population in the local area. On any given day you can see upwards of 10 deer in any given field, there is more than enough food supply in the area. Putting the blame on a farm that has been in operation for fifty plus years is absurd. I did not say that this (having a school and farm that close) is an ideal situation or that it is going to prevent an attack. Please don’t put words in my mouth! As I stated before “if you do encounter a coyote in the wild, a hungry one is much more dangerous than one with a full belly” again common sense!

    • Citizen
      January 15, 2014 - 23:28

      I guess you could be right, I mean what good is a university biology degree anyways? Biology smology, lol. What the world needs more of is good ol fashion common sense, those edumacated fellers dat think theys so smart just needs ta stop that dang reasoning and use dey common sense. You's is right, all dat food isn't da problem it's dose dang clearcuttz!

    • Katie
      January 16, 2014 - 14:23

      In no way did KC state that clear cutting is the only problem, just that it attributes to the problem. It seems as if citizen has a personal vendetta against this farm. Citizen your reply to KC is about the most immature comment I have ever read! Trying to make KC look uneducated back fire on you! Proving your ignorance, your immaturity. Also the comment indicates you are lacking in common sense and education!

  • kc
    January 13, 2014 - 15:28

    Encounter not incounter lol, thats why it's so important to proof read!

  • KC
    January 13, 2014 - 10:20

    Citizen, with local clear cutting in our area animals including coyotes have no choice but to move to our backyards and woods (even around our schools). There is nothing you can do to stop it but at least they don't need to hunt in our backyards and woods by our schools as there is food for them that they don't have to work for. As most people know if you do incounter a coyote in the wild, a hungry one is much more dangerous then one with a full belly. So we should be happy that the coyotes are not eating our pets and us!

    • citizen
      January 13, 2014 - 15:17

      That's an interesting theory, because it directly contradicts everything that DNR is suggesting to limit human/coyote confrontations. Is this a personal theory or something that has been suggested by biologists or other wildlife experts? Its a fact that coyotes breed according to the amount of available food, that is to say if there is more available food they have more pups. So, if we give them an abundant source of food...... That just happens to be next door to a School...... What's going to happen if that food source suddenly isn't enough any more? I have yet to see DNR set up coyote feeding stations near schools to limit the chance of an attack. maybe they ( DNR ) don't know what they're doing?

  • shaun walker
    January 11, 2014 - 11:00

    Hey DI what do you think the birds are eating in the valley chicken bodies and i dont think they died of natural causes fed from another farm farmers feed people what is going to happen when these farmers and ones just like them just get fed up with all this hope you have a big lawn cause all your going to have to eat is grass

    • citizen
      January 11, 2014 - 15:39

      Hey Shaun If the Chicken farmer's in the Valley were disposing of chickens next to an Elementary School, and it was also attracting Coyotes do you think it might cause an issue with public safety? If you had kids at a School that were not allowed to go outside at times, and trappers had to be brought in to dispatch Coyotes that were in close proximity to that school would that cause you concern? Do you feel that feeding and attracting predatory animals is a good idea that will keep them out of conflict with humans and potentially young children? You guys can acknowledge it or don't, but the fact is there has been issues with Coyotes nearby.

  • Tim Parker
    January 10, 2014 - 13:24

    I think we need to be more concerned about the Civic Centre and all the cougars it is attracting in the Brooklyn Area lol a joke. Just like this issue being brought to west hants counsel lol a joke. I support our local famers!

  • jamie leopold
    January 10, 2014 - 11:29

    well this is how its been as long as i can remember . when i was a kid my grandfather had a small slaughter house we had a carcas and gut sled we would take the guts and bones and anything not consumable to the woods for the wild animals to clean up NEVER a prob . so this half assed councel guy has to stir stuff up . dont like it STAY OFF HIS PROPERTY and you wont see it . maby its time for randy matheson to resign if this is what he has to bring to west hants councel . there is more pressing issues in west hants than how a farmer farms . just this easy NO FARMERS =NO FOOD

    • citizen
      January 10, 2014 - 23:07

      The first thing you need to ask yourself is- Was this full scope of what was happening? Or is it a small part of a much bigger picture that has for the most part been cleaned up? Was animal carcass's the only thing being dumped? Or is that the only thing the Journal decided to print? Maybe if you found the time to get off your coach and attend a council meeting you could find out for yourself. It would save you the trouble of making an uninformed comment, that's for sure. The job of council is to represent its citizens and enforce its bylaws. If Council decides to arbitrarily pick when and where to enforce its own bylaws, then they ( bylaws ) are completely useless and it reeks of a good ol boys network and favoritism. If you have a concern and bring it to your Councilman, and he see's something wrong IE a bylaw being broken, then it is his job to be your advocate. So I guess you'd like to see Mr. Matheson resign for doing his job?

  • Katie Parker
    January 09, 2014 - 15:04

    This is proper disposal for farms when composting animal carcasses. The farmer is following guideline as set-out by department of agriculture ns. Please note that it is impossible to burry the carcasses during the winter months. When the ground is not frozen the farmer burries any animals that dies before slotter or is injured and has to be put down. I am thankful that the farmer does not choose to butcher meat that may have been compromised as many butchers do. Some people are uneducated on this issue and to the common citizen, the images are disturbing, however this is how it has been done for decades on Farms. DNR disposes of carcasses (road kill) in the same manner. DNR (Provincial Government) dumping ground is within HRM City limits. Follow the link to read the article about DNRs dumping ground. http://thechronicleherald.ca/thenovascotian/1175336-a-final-resting-place-touring-a-nova-scotia-carcass-disposal-site

    • Katie
      January 10, 2014 - 10:22

      This allows wild life in the area to feed freely without having to hunt, for our familys and pets this is a good thing. Mother of 2, Pet owner of 4

  • A. Sherman
    January 08, 2014 - 19:20

    I'll bet if it was a mink farmer the council would ignore the situation entirely. They like the smelly money too much.

  • Di
    January 08, 2014 - 11:00

    Eagles eating there or not.. this isn't proper carcass disposal. There is the eagle feeding in the Valley, not that far of a trip for a bird such as an eagle. This is just wrong and should not be allowed to continue if it is indeed located near a school. Good people or not they should have to follow better practices when disposing of animal parts/bodies...

    • Trevor Rafuse
      January 08, 2014 - 16:17

      This farm was operating this way for 40 years the department of enviorment and agriculture has been there on numerous occasions because of different complaints from the same two people. And yes Di everything is being done by the proper standards that are in place at the current time. I am not sure what you people expect the farmers to do with there losses they certainly could not afford to take them to the vet and get them cremated like we do with our family pets. It is not like they are contaminating the earth or water ways they break down in time.This is just a family disagreement that now has a friend from council trying to grasp straws!!!

  • shaun walker
    January 08, 2014 - 09:28

    This is nothing more than a family feud. I know this farmer and they are a great family. Jealous kin is causing all this to try and cause as much trouble for this family as they can. In the story there is nothing mentioned about countless pairs of nesting bald eagles that eat there and depend on this source of food to survive the winter. This story is one sided all caused by someone that has nothing better to do. Its a farm get over it

    • citizen
      January 08, 2014 - 17:06

      Interestingly enough there was a story in local papers in recent years ago a coyote issue at the nearby School. It was mentioned that when the problem coyotes were examined after being trapped, they were full of meat by products. Obviously this has been attracting more than eagles.

  • Vox Populi
    January 08, 2014 - 08:54

    "Deputy Warden Gary Cochrane said...“It is going to open up, literally, a can of worms.” Learn to talk! It is not 'literally' going to open a can of worms unless someone takes a genuine can opener to a genuine can full of worms!

  • Michele Millker
    January 07, 2014 - 10:18


    • tired
      January 07, 2014 - 15:33

      Learn to type!!!

    • bower
      January 08, 2014 - 18:34

      i am a farmer and why cant people just mind there own buisness because a dead animal in the woods is just a natural thing. what next is everyone going to go around and gather up all the dead animals that are around everywhere like deer and other wildlife!!! ppl need to get a grip on life because the department of natural resources and department of transportation dump dead animals in the woods all the time that they gather up off of the side of roads. how is that any different????????