Dozens occupy turkey barn in Alberta to protest animal living conditions
Turkeys are pictured at a turkey farm near Sauk Centre, Minn., Nov. 2, 2005. (AP / Janet Hostetter)
NOBELFORD, Alta. -- Dozens of activists from Western Canada came to a turkey farm in southern Alberta to protest what they call the inhumane treatment of the animals.
The group of about 60 people went Monday to the Jumbo Valley Hutterite turkey farm in the town of Nobleford, about 185 kilometres southeast of Calgary.
"Around 4,000 individual birds are kept here in barns for 14 weeks, which due to extreme crowding means very poor air quality, pest infestations so severe entire barns are occasionally fumigated," activist Trev Miller said in an emailed statement.
"Beings farmed for food have very little protection in Canada. Not only are laws lenient, they're rarely enforced and there's little oversight at any stage of their lives."
Const. Ben Stubbe said the RCMP was called in Monday morning to keep the peace between the protesters and the farmer.
The farmer said he had nothing to hide, Stubbe added, and allowed the protesters to tour a barn with the officers. A few turkeys were also taken to an animal sanctuary by the activists.
"We allowed the protesters to protest as their legal right, even though they did occupy a turkey barn, which is a trespass and break-and-enter," Stubbe said in an interview.
"But at the same time, we recognize as police officers that there is a fine balance between the right for a lawful protest, as well as having due care and concern for the property rights of others."
The manager of Jumbo Valley Colony, the operation's owner, said they are fully regulated and follow all animal welfare and food safety standards.
Tom Tschetter told the CBC he worries the activists could do more harm than good.
"If you're scared about being bad to turkeys, well you are transferring disease from one environment to another walking into the barn," he said.
Stubbe said the protesters were escorted off the farm at about noon and no one was arrested.
He said the RCMP is still investigating.
Premier Jason Kenney weighed in on the protest Monday evening, calling it unacceptable.
"Hardworking farmers and ranchers shouldn't have to deal with harassment from illegal protesters," Kenney said in a tweet.
"They shouldn't have to worry about people entering their work, interfering with their lives or threatening the health of their animals."