Four charged in sheep removal
Montana Jones, pictured outside of the Northumberland OPP Detachment on Thursday. PETE FISHER/Northumberland Today
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has charged four people in connection with missing sheep in Northumberland County.
The accused were charged following an investigation into the removal of 31 Shropshire sheep from a federally quarantined farm in Eastern Ontario on or about April 2, 2012. The farm was suspected of being contaminated with scrapie, a fatal, transmissible neurological disease of sheep and goats.
Northumberland Today was the only media present at the Northumberland OPP Detachment on Thursday as one by one each suspect walked into the building to be formally charged.
A press release issued Wednesday by the CFIA stated “in consultation with the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has laid criminal charges against four people, following the unlawful removal of sheep from a federally quarantined premises in April 2012.”
According to the statement, investigators had the “full support of the Canadian sheep industry” when CFIA took part on the Scrapie Eradication Program.
“It is alleged that by unlawfully removing and concealing the sheep, the program was threatened and the health and safety of other sheep and the industry were jeopardized.”
Linda Frances Jones, also known as Montana Jones (54), Michael Schmidt (58), Suzanne Atkinson (52) and Robert Pinnell (46), are all charged with, obstructing a CFIA inspector, conspiracy to commit obstruction of a CFIA inspector, transport or causing to transport an animal under quarantine, conspiracy to transport or causing to transport an animal under quarantine and conspiracy to defraud the public of a service over $5,000.
Jones is further charged with one additional count of obstructing a CFIA inspector. Pinnell is further charged with one count each of attempting to obstruct justice and obstructing a public officer.
As other suspects were in the detachment being formally charged, photographed and fingerprinted, Jones spoke with Northumberland Today. She said they were all issued no contact orders with each other.
“I’m not surprised because of the targeting that has been going on - their targeting of myself, the sheep and the farm despite all of my proposals to save them," Jones said. “I’m still of the 100% belief there was never scrapie on my farm.”
Jones said the CFIA is directly responsible for killing 65 of her sheep and she now has none.
Looking at what has taken place over the year, Jones has no regrets with what she has done.
“I just wanted to save a rare breed of sheep that was important to Canada’s agricultural biodiversity and history. Now they’re gone.”
All of the sheep which were killed had no signs of scrapie.
“They did a live test with 88% accuracy and it wasn’t good enough for them. Killed them all and still negative," Jones said.
After leaving the detachment, Robert Pinnell said it was “funny” what was happening.
“They’re willing to go through this much effort," he said. "They were going to kill these sheep and now it’s become this big event.”