By Connor Lynch
NAVAN — Along Navan Road, heading into the town east of Ottawa, there’s a north-side fence dotted with small, white signs, with a clear message: “Private property.”
Dairy farmer Matt Nooyen is wondering if signage is enough to keep people out, after a hunter stepped onto his property and shot his two beloved pet pigs.
On Nov. 8, Nooyen’s wife Lianne Guilbeault was at work when she received a voicemail from Frank LaPlante, a local hunter she had met at a farmers’ market weeks earlier. LaPlante left a message that morning asking for permission to shoot what he thought were two wild boars on her property. She immediately called back. When nobody answered, she found LaPlante on Facebook, and messaged him. He did not respond.
Close to panic, she called her husband, who was at the farm, not five minutes away, asking him to go home immediately and check on Pickles and Rosie.
When Nooyen arrived he saw LaPlante and another man standing on his property. Nooyen asked where the pigs were and Nooyen said he was told they had run off behind a fabric-covered structure. Nooyen went to search for his pets and LaPlante and his friend left. Nooyen couldn’t find their pets and his wife called LaPlante repeatedly until he answered and told her that he had shot the pigs and cleaned up the blood afterwards.
The couple went to the police, who suggested the couple negotiate with LaPlante for compensation, as a trespassing fine was only $100.
The Nooyens sent a letter asking for $12,000 in recompense for the loss of their pets, along with the associated bills, and their pain and suffering. LaPlante responded within days with a counter-offer: $1,000, and a condition: The two wouldn’t be allowed to speak to anyone about what had happened.
LaPlante confessed to killing the pigs on a since-deleted Facebook post. “I still can’t believe that I killed someone’s pets. I did everything I could to try to make this right. I would have done anything to make this right. I pleaded and begged for forgiveness,” he wrote. He returned the carcasses and the Nooyens said they buried their pets in the backyard.
Both hunters were charged by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry in late November. They were charged with using a firearm without consideration for property, and trespassing for the purposes of hunting, and will appear in provincial court in Ottawa on Feb. 22.
Pickles and Rosie were a lifelong dream for Nooyen. When he was a child the family farm had pigs. As regulations changed, the family had to get rid of them and a young Nooyen promised himself he’d have pigs again.
They were fine pets, he said, much like dogs. “They’d come when you called them.”
The couple planned on getting two more piglets from a breeder in Carp in the spring. But when a British Columbia couple heard what had happened, they sent the Nooyens two piglets from their hobby farm as a Christmas gift. Air Canada flew the piglets to Ottawa for free.