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Friday, October 14, 2011

Saskatchewan farmer acquitted of Stray Animals Act charges

A Saskatchewan farmer has been acquitted by the Provincial Court of three charges under the Stray Animals Act for "allowing his cattle to run unlawfully at large".  The Court found in the end that the farmer had made out the defence of due diligence.

The Court accepted the evidence of a neighbour that on August 31, 2010, she was in her house, when suddenly five or six bulls came into her yard, from all directions, and a couple of them started fighting.  Being afraid, she called the police, and a complaint ensued.  She said that either she or the police phoned the farmer to come and get the bulls.  The neighbour also stated that the cattle got into an organic alfalfa field, which her son was farming for her.  She made a complaint about the August 31, 2010 incident, as well as two subsequent incidents of the same sort.

In his defence, the farmer presented evidence of his general practices, including the maintenance of fencing.  He argued that he had exercised due diligence by checking his fences twice a week, and repairing breaks whenever they were located.  The Court found that the farmer's fencing was good and substantial, well-built and well-maintained.  In the end, the Court agreed that the farmer had exercised due diligence and was not guilty of the strict liability offences under the Act:
The test ... is whether or not Mr. Potoreyko has satisfied me, on a balance of probabilities, that he took all reasonable steps to avoid the doing of the prohibited act.  I am satisfied that he has met that test.  He is not required to guarantee that his cattle will not run at large.  I find that he took reasonable steps, in both patrolling his fence line, and in repairing the fence line when required, to prevent his cattle from running at large.
Read the decision at: R v Potoreyko.