By Tina Comeau
Glenwood resident Jud Nickerson had always wanted a goat. And so he was quite happy last year when he brought home a three-month old goat that he and wife named Daisy Mae.
But his happiness turned to heartbreak the morning of July 8 when he found the 14-month-old goat dead near the end of his Yarmouth County driveway.
And his heartbreak is coupled with anger because the death should never have occurred.
“I got a friend of mine to help me put her on the truck and I saw two spots that looked like bullet holes,” he says. The goat had been shot in the cheek and near the temple.
At the same time that they were putting the goat into the truck, a worker from Natural Resources happened to be driving by. He told Nickerson the only way to know what the goat had been shot with would be to cut open the spot at the wounds.
“I cut it open and I found a pellet,” Nickerson says. In fact he found two pellets.
He took the pellets to the RCMP detachment and reported the incident.
This isn’t the only incident of animals being shot at with a pellet gun in Yarmouth County recently. Around 6:30 p.m. on July 12, the RCMP responded to a complaint on Highway 3 in Pubnico of two cows having been shot with a pellet gun. Neither cow suffered any serious injury.
Although the two incidents occurred in the same geographical region of Yarmouth County, Corporal Mark Hustins says, “I wouldn’t look at those initially as being connected to one another.” Although he’s says he can't say for certain.
Nickerson disagrees. He feels the villages, connected by the same road, are too close for this to be a coincidence.
Nickerson also has ducks, chickens, dogs and other goats at his property. He says Daisy Mae was like a family pet.
“She was friendly. She would walk right up to you,” he says, his emotion evident.
“It was a nice night so I left her out. She happened to be tied near the road,” he says. “That’s where I wanted her to eat the feed.”
He hadn’t heard anything overnight to cause him alarm, therefore he was quite surprised in the morning when he went to feed his goat and she was dead.
Nickerson says he never would have thought a pellet was strong enough to kill an animal.
“I just didn’t think they were that powerful, but I got the two pellets out of her to prove that they are,” he says, adding if people think shooting at an animal with a pellet gun is a harmless prank, it is not.
People may be unaware of the potential consequences.
Cpl. Hustins of the Yarmouth Rural RCMP Detachment echoes this.
“Pellet guns are still considered firearms and they are still dangerous and, as you can see, they can cause serious injury,” he says.
Bob Stevens, a conservation officer with Natural Resources, says it is important that people act responsibly when using pellet guns.
“I think, possibly, it looks like from what I’ve seen with regards to the goat that it went in under the skin, there were multiple shots fired at her, and it could have hit a vein or an artery and that’s why it succumbed to what happened to it,” he says. “Normally a pellet gun, to an animal, is just more aggravating and stresses them out, but they do have the potential where you can actually kill something with it.”
Stevens says pellet guns are classed as an air rifle or air gun and they have various entry levels, and therefore can fall under the Criminal Code depending on the intent with which they’re used.
“To be classed as an air rifle entry level would up to 500 feet per second, or 154.2 metres per second. Once you go above that into 700 up to 1,000 and over 1,000 feet per second you’re into an actual firearm,” he says. “Below 500 feet per second it’s not classed as a firearm under the firearms act.”
The RCMP are asking anyone with information about these incidents to contact them. They can call the detachment at 742-9106 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800 222 TIPS(8477).
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