Quebec town tries cowboy tactics after crop-trampling cattle evade capture for months

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A small town in Quebec resorts to cowboy tactics to contain a herd of runaway cattle that have eluded capture for months and are wreaking havoc on farmers’ fields.

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The mayor of Saint-Sèvre, in Quebec’s Mauricie region, said around 20 young animals jumped off his farm in late July and have been on the loose ever since.

Jean-Yves Saint-Arnaud said most of its citizens – and even some city council members – are farmers who are no strangers to cattle, but he added that reintroducing a herd of finicky heifers, those who don’t have not much contact with humans is a difficult challenge.

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“An animal like this can jump very high,” he said. “They can jump five feet high; They are impressive animals.

St-Arnaud estimated that the animals caused between $20,000 and $25,000 in damage to nearby crops, mostly by laying eggs in soybean fields and biting corn cobs. He said the municipality was only informed of what was happening in October, when cattle started roaming near people’s homes and even across the road.

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He said he first tried to call the provincial agriculture department, but was told it was unrelated to livestock. Then he tried the wildlife department and was told the same thing.

He said: “We had to find out for ourselves.

Residents and officials enlisted the cowboys of Saint-Tite, a town known for its annual western festival. He said eight cowboys and a drone operator spent an entire day in October locating the animals and taking them to specially constructed enclosures. While they were nearly successful, there was a last minute line break and the herd fled again.

Saint-Arnaud said the animals were currently somewhere in the woods, but he wasn’t sure where exactly. He said officers were not considering a lethal method and would not scour private property to find them.

Instead, he said he hoped the cold weather and hunger would lead him to return home.

If they return and start causing trouble again, St-Arnaud said the town of 320 would be ready to “take the bull by the horns” – without specifying what that meant.

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