Scrapie-quarantined sheep vanish from Ont. farm


Ontario Provincial Police and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency are looking for a flock of sheep that has disappeared from a southeastern Ontario farm under quarantine for scrapie.

The CFIA said in a release Monday that the animals in question are "suspected of having scrapie," a federally reportable nerve disease related to BSE in cattle and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in people.

The sheep were found to be missing the same day 41 of the "apparently healthy" animals, including 20 pregnant ewes, were scheduled to be destroyed by CFIA order. That?s according to an earlier release from Karen Selick, a lawyer for the Calgary-based Canadian Constitution Foundation, representing producer Montana Jones.

Local media show Jones? farm at Trent Hills, about 50 km east of Peterborough, has attracted a number of protesters urging a reprieve for the sheep.

According to a news report Monday from Peterborough TV station CHEX, an unknown party took a number of the sheep from Jones? barn sometime between Sunday evening and Monday morning and left a note saying the animals were in "protective custody."

All of the condemned animals tested by CFIA previously tested negative for scrapie in live biopsies, and none of the animals had shown clinical symptoms of the disease in the 12 years Jones has raised sheep, the foundation previously alleged.



Scrapie found at Ont. home farm of missing sheep

One of the sheep remaining at a quarantined southeastern Ontario farm where 31 sheep disappeared earlier this month has been confirmed positive for scrapie.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency, in a release late Friday, confirmed the fatal nerve disease in a sheep that had "recently died" on the farm operated by Linda Montana Jones near Hastings, Ont., about 35 km east of Peterborough.

The farm was placed under quarantine after another sheep in Alberta that originated from the Jones farm tested positive for scrapie, CFIA said.

The finding further complicates Jones? well-publicized efforts to prevent her flock from being destroyed and tested ? as CFIA officials had reportedly planned to do on April 2, the day 31 of the farm?s 41 animals were found to be missing.

According to an earlier statement from Jones, an unknown party identifying itself as the "Farmers Peace Corp" left a note claiming responsibility for the sheep-napping. Ontario Provincial Police are still investigating.

Karen Selick, a Belleville, Ont. lawyer for the Calgary-based Canadian Constitution Foundation, representing Jones, has previously alleged all of the condemned animals on the quarantined farm have tested negative for scrapie in live biopsies and none of the flock showed clinical symptoms of scrapie in the 12 years Jones has raised sheep.

Now, the CFIA said Friday, "the missing sheep pose a serious risk for scrapie and could spread the disease to other sheep and goats."

Furthermore, the agency said Friday, quarantine breaches such as this one "put the livestock industry and the economy at risk."

Any premises that receive the missing sheep will be subject to "a quarantine and further regulatory action" which could include criminal prosecution under the Health of Animals Act.

Scrapie is a federally reportable livestock ailment from the transmissible spongiform encephaolpathy (TSE) family of neurodegenerative diseases, such as BSE in cattle and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in people.

Always fatal in infected animals, scrapie has a long incubation period ands there is no known 100 per cent effective live test. Infected animals can spread the disease in flocks and herds without showing signs of illness.

A single sheep Jones sold to an Alberta farm in 2007 was later found to have scrapie, the foundation said previously, also alleging scientists can?t accurately determine when or where the Alberta case acquired the illness.

Jones? farm, the foundation said, has "nevertheless been under quarantine" since January 2009, causing "great financial hardship."

Selick on April 19 filed an application with the Federal Court of Canada, seeking a judicial review to overturn the CFIA?s destruction order for Jones? 41 sheep and alleging the agency and its staff "acted with improper intentions or for ulterior purposes."

In a separate release Monday (April 24) from the foundation, Selick further alleged the testing of a slaughtered sheep?s brain tissue for scrapie "may not be significantly more accurate than the live-animal rectal biopsy."

Jones, in the same release, suggested the CFIA offer amnesty to the "Farmers Peace Corp" and promise to spare the sheep if they would be returned.

Jones described her sheep as Shropshires, an "endangered breed," noting "they?re due to have lambs soon so I?m expecting 30 to 40 new babies."



Barnmates of missing Ont. sheep negative for scrapie

A quarantined southeastern Ontario farm where 31 sheep vanished last month, just before they were to be destroyed and tested for scrapie, is now down by nine more sheep, all scrapie-negative.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency confirmed this week that it took nine sheep from Linda Montana Jones? farm last weekend, and that the nine sheep were destroyed and tested negative for the brain-wasting disease.

The nine were slaughtered after a sheep that recently died on the same farm and came from the same genetic cohort was tested in late April and found to be a "very strong positive," CFIA officials said.

The Jones farm at Hastings, Ont., about 35 km east of Peterborough, has been under quarantine since January 2010, after a single sheep she sold to an Alberta farm in 2007 died and tested positive for scrapie.

The 31 animals that disappeared just before they were to be destroyed April 2 were a group sorted from Jones? flock as having a genetic susceptibility to the disease, said Penny Greenwood, national manager for disease control and animal welfare with the CFIA in Ottawa.

Greenwood also confirmed that one of the nine animals destroyed this week was the dam of the scrapie-positive animal.

Jones ? who with help from the Calgary-based Canadian Constitution Foundation has waged a very public fight to prevent her animals from being destroyed and tested ? said in a release Thursday that the dam was 13 years old and was due to have more lambs next week.

Citing CFIA, Jones said scrapie is most often passed on in birthing fluids ? but the dam of the "alleged positive" was "healthy and robust, and tested negative," she said.