The municipality of Grenville-sur-la-Rouge is dissatisfied about a recent incident at a former domestic deer farm, and with ongoing efforts to decontaminate the property following a 2018 incident.
A family of deer is alleged to have recently entered an enclosure on the Harpur Farms property. In 2018, Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) was discovered in the domestic red deer herd at the farm. In the months following the discovery, the federal Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) culled the herd to prevent the spread of disease, and ordered an extensive cleanup of the site, including the removal of potentially contaminated soil. Québec wildlife authorities also carried out a significant cull of the wild deer population in the surrounding area to reduce the potential for CWD to spread from the domestic herd to wild deer.
The municipality is concerned that the alleged recent entry of wild deer into the domestic farm could potentially infect them with CWD if any trace of the disease remains on the property.
“The gate was just open, it’s completely irresponsible,” said Mayor Tom Arnold.
The mayor has been critical of the CFIA response to decontaminate the site since the 2018 CWD discovery. Arnold is not pleased about the current situation, particularly since the Québec government hired a private American firm to carry out the cull of the wild deer population, and now wild deer have again been put at risk.
‘’I can’t believe three years ago we were dispatched a commando unit from New York to exterminate the wild deer population at risk of spreading the highly contagious disease, but since then the federal government has been so lax towards those responsible for the problem,” Arnold said.
During the wild deer cull, more than 800 deer were killed in an area of nearly 400 square kilometres.
According to Arnold, communication from the CFIA about cleanup efforts on the farm has become almost non-existent.
“At the beginning we had weekly, even daily communications, now we have difficulty in getting answers,” Arnold said. “We are told to make access to information requests, but the municipality is more than concerned and must ensure that the decontamination does not violate its bylaws.”
Arnold alleges some levels of government are not doing their homework, and the saga has cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The municipality is considering what legal options it has regarding if it may force cleanup work to accelerate at the site and within existing municipal regulations. Further information from the CFIA is also required.
“There’s no cooperation by the federal government right now, they won’t even give us the information needed,” Arnold said at the November 9 council meeting. “I can guarantee you if that manure was on Parliament Hill, it would be cleaned up pretty damned quick.”
The Review contacted Harpur Farms headquarters in Montréal about the situation in Grenville-sur-la-Rouge, but no response was received.