In a twist on the feed crisis being experienced by Alberta livestock owners, thieves made off with $10,000 worth of hay that had been illegally cut and baled in a provincial park near Edmonton.
The hay — about 70 bales in total — had been cut and bundled illegally in July at Lois Hole Centennial Provincial Park, just west of St. Albert.
Alberta Environment and Parks offered the hay to the Alberta SPCA, but before transportation could be arranged, all but one of the bales were taken from the field.
“The hay was going to be used to feed livestock in the care of our organization this winter,” Stuart Dodds, provincial supervisor of the Alberta SPCA, said in a news release.
“Unfortunately the bales disappeared before we could set eyes on them.”
The theft happened sometime between July 31 and Aug. 5.
“This would not have been an easy task,” Dodds said in the news release. “Collecting 70 bales would have required a bale picker as well as numerous loads on a flatbed semi-trailer.”
Another 11 bales had been cut, bundled and transported to a rural property. Those bales have since been donated to the SPCA, the news release said.
Hot, dry conditions this summer have been devastating for crops and counties throughout Alberta have declared local states of agricultural disaster.
Cattle can no longer find enough grass in baked pastures, and water sources have dried up. Meanwhile, hay has doubled or tripled in price.
The SPCA said cattle producers are being encouraged to legally secure winter feed as soon as possible.
“If farmers do not have enough feed to get through winter and spring, they may need to take steps to reduce their herds this fall,” the news release said.
“Allowing animals to starve due to a lack of available feed is not acceptable.”
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