In the 40 years that Bill Laing has been farming, he’s never seen anything like what’s happening: a pile of treated canola seed that he discovered lying on the ground in a pasture Oct. 24 killed his Black Angus bull and two pregnant Charolais cows.1 (Those animals are worth a lot too, cows are valued at $2,000 each and the bull at $5,000, but there is no insurance.)
“When I was driving out of the pasture, I could see some blue stuff by the gate in a low spot.
Here’s about 15 to 20 bushels of blue canola. Who the hell would dump that in there?”
It’s private land and they’re not supposed to be driving in there. The person who dumped there knew this spot.”2
The canola? Colored blue by farmers as a safety precaution to notate it’s been treated. And at the amount Laing estimates, it was the property of a big farming operation.
Laing cut open the stomach of one of the dead cows the day he found them and saw “piles of canola inside.”3 A local vet confirmed the canola as the cause of death for all three animals. Laing said it would have been a relatively fast death, “It was both the treatment and the canola that killed them. The insecticide will kill them quick, but if they ate straight canola without the treated, that will kill them, too.”4
Regardless of why someone would discard that much money, tracing it back to the owner will be next to impossible. And although the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Saskatchewan investigated, they had to close the case for lack of leads or further evidence.
Old tractor tires, fence posts, and wire currently cover the area (so does snow!) where the canola was left (to poison animals and the ground) and Laing has brought the remaining 28 cows and calves home to his yard for the winter. He’s keeping a close eye on them for signs of poisoning, too. “The vet said this could linger on. The other ones could have liver damage in the wintertime and die. And they can abort any time right now, too,’ he said. ‘Only time will tell.’”5