The Saskatchewan SPCA says a precedent-setting decision was handed down against a Delmas farmer accused of mistreating a herd of elk.
Michael Beausoleil, of Delmas, appeared in North Battleford provincial court July 7, where he was sentenced to three years probation and was prohibited from owning or having custody of any animal for five years. He was also ordered to pay $2,500 in fines and $17,489.28 in restitution.
Beausoleil was charged under sections the Criminal Code and the Animal Protection Act. He has been subject to repeated SPCA investigations dating back to 2003.
The SPCA had received a complaint back on September 1, 2009 about the condition of elk on the property. Animal protection officers investigated Sept. 3 and found 80 elk were in poor body condition, with one elk unable to even walk. The elk were located in paddocks grazed down to the ground, and the only other feed available to them was a few bales.
Efforts by the SPCA to work with Beausoleil to provide adequate care for the animals proved unsuccessful. An on site assessment was conducted by a veterinarian Sept. 23, with Beausoleil instructed to provide the herd with good quality grain and hay.
Oct. 1, the veterinarian conducted a second investigation and ordered the removal of the elk amid concern that they might die of starvation and exposure during the coming winter. Beausoleil surrendered the entire herd Oct. 2.
In total, 55 elk were removed, with another 35 having to be euthanized because they were in such poor shape.
In a statement released July 14, SPCA Executive Director Frances Wach said she was pleased with the court's ruling, saying the "ruling sets a precedent that will guide future cases involving animal cruelty and neglect."