The work of one concerned citizen has uncovered the deaths of about 500 hogs in southwestern Manitoba.
The citizen, who wished not to be identified, informed Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship (MCWS) of the deaths that happened at a hog barn near Cartwright in January.
"Staff have investigated your complaint regarding the mass hog mortality and have discovered that while the approximately 500 dead hogs were disposed of properly, the incident was not reported to the department," stated an April 20 letter to the citizen from Don Labossier, director for MCWS.
The hog barn in question, Willow Creek Colony Farms, met questions last Tuesday about the investigation with hostility.
"Nope, that never happened here," said a colony member. "Just the normal pigs that die each day, but not 400. We have 400 a year, maybe."
The colony member pointed to another reason for the investigation.
"That was an employee going stupid ... The RCMP were here investigating and we’ve had a whole bunch of people here, but we don’t know where it came from," he added.
"We let an employee go that we had hired and I thought maybe she was the one that set it up."
Peter Crocker, district supervisor for MCWS in Brandon, investigated the complaint which led to the discovery of the deaths.
The department typically deals with a few mass mortalities each year, usually related to fires, Crocker said.
"There is a requirement that operators notify the department if they exceed their routine capacity to dispose of mortalities," Crocker said.
The department’s investigation didn’t centre on the cause of the deaths, although Crocker said he was told it was a result of a ventilation failure, but instead focused on the procedure that was followed to dispose of the dead hogs.
"The animals were disposed of properly," Crocker said. "They were removed by trailers for rendering in Winnipeg."
The department also disciplined the barn for failing to report the dead hogs, Crocker said.
"The company in question has been issued a formal warning letter from the department for this oversight," the letter from MCWS reads.
Turtle Mountain RCMP investigated the barn on behalf of the Office of the Chief Veterinarian. The investigation revealed that nothing illegal occurred at the barn.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition May 7, 2012