A Consort family has finally closed off their land after a person or persons posing as hunters fatally shot three cows on their property.
Within the span of a week, the three black Angus cross cows were shot with hardly an inkling of reason as to why or how it happened.
The first and second shooting happened on Sun. Nov. 25. The final criminal act took place on Fri. Nov. 30.
The first cow was discovered the next day by a hunter who did ask for permission while the second was found two days later.
Upon personal investigation, it was determined the first cow had been shot and travelled approximately 100 yards before dying while the second was found only 200 yards away from the first.
“We’re not sure if we got an unknown enemy out there,” said Kirk Sortland. “I’m quite certain we do have an enemy whether they think we are enemies or not.”
“I can understand one. I can get over that but not three.”
One theory indicates that it may have been a hunter who mistook the animal for an antlerless moose in foggy and dark conditions.
Their land stretches 40 quarters, some of which is close to the highway where access is easier to obtain. The cows that were shot were in a pasture a mile away from the highway.
“The very first time I would say it’s somebody who mistook it for a moose which really isn’t a valid excuse but I know it can happen,” he said.
“If they couldn’t tell it was a moose or a beef cow they probably wouldn’t have been able to tell if it was antlered or antlerless if it was that dark or that foggy but that’s what I assumed.
“Then when there was two found in the same area, we thought maybe one was in a slough. Maybe they shot that one first and then roared around to the other side and seen the other standing there and shot it.
“That’s me trying to think best case scenario, not just a malicious act.” The family has decided to invest in trail cameras as well as notices that will be posted around the property that contains cattle.
Although open to hunting to keep wildlife in check, the Sortlands are now requiring interested hunters to ask for written permission and will only be allowed to hunt on foot as a result of the incidences.
“We were thinking about absolutely no trespassing but we have had in the past quite a bit of wildlife damage on crops and haystacks so we didn’t want to go to that measure. [It’s] Hard to complain that there is too much wildlife if you won’t let anybody hunt them,” continued Sortland.
RCMP and Alberta Fish and Wildlife have been contacted. The Sortlands have also applied for compensation of their loss as each cow is worth approximately $2,600; a total of $7,800 in today’s market.
After speaking with other ranchers in the area, this isn’t the first time something like this has ever happened.
Neighbours in a 20 to 30-mile radius away have had similar experiences in past years.
A hot issue circulating around rural crime has been the right to protect your property and family with the use of firearms.
In Canadian Law, everyone is protected from criminal responsibility for defending their possession but only ‘if he uses no more force than is necessary’.
This often creates a grey area as each case is different.
“There’s a lot of anger for sure,” said Sortland.
“There was several days between that makes me think that it’s not just a random mistake so that makes me more angry but also makes me question what might be driving somebody to do it. I’m scared what might happen if I catch somebody doing it.”
This year’s hunting season ended on Sat. Dec. 1.