By Connor Lynch
HAWKESBURY — Cattle rustling calls to mind grainy-filmed westerns populated by nostalgic stereotypes.
Hawkesbury police were drawn into a modern case of cattle theft late last year that involved DNA testing and good old detective work.
On Sept. 19, beef farmer Guillaume Lachaine of Ferme-Neuve, a Quebec municipality about three hours north of Ottawa, called the cops. Sixteen of his cows, valued at about $30,000, had gone missing, apparently loaded onto a trailer in the middle of the night and hauled away.
Hawkesbury OPP found out about the theft a week later, when three cows showed up at the Vankleek Hill Livestock Exchange and the handler purchased three ear tags. The auction house got suspicious. Police were called and a DNA test quickly revealed where the cattle had originally come from, but it would take longer to locate the others.
In November, Hawkesbury OPP found another nine of the animals on pasture land rented on Aberdeen Road in North Glengarry township. The animals had lost a lot of weight, though Lachaine said that they’ve since gained it back.
Two people were arrested and charged in early December, both of them from East Hawkesbury. Jean-Phillip Dion, 34, was charged with two counts of possession of property obtained by crime worth over $5,000, and two counts of failure to provide the necessities of life. Sylvianne Bordeleaux, 53, was charged with possession of stolen property valued at more than $5,000.
Hawkesbury OPP Const. Mario Gratton said the investigating officer, Walter Vandergoten, is a part-time farmer who loves cows. “We couldn’t have had a better officer on the case.”
He said that Vandergoten discovered a cow on a road near Hawkesbury and was suspicious because the cow seemed thin and was missing its ear tag. The officer quickly located eight more cows in a nearby field and used photos he had been given by the cows’ owner to identify his cattle. Police were then able to find out who was renting the land and make the arrests.
Three cows are still missing.