Dozens of animal activists from Western Canada descended on a farm near Fort MacLeod, Alta., on Monday, to protest against what they allege is the inhumane treatment of animals.
About 30 people illegally planted themselves inside the Jumbo Valley Hutterite turkey farm and another 30 stood outside near the highway.
The protesters, who said they’re not with any particular group, explained they wanted to highlight the living conditions of the 30,000 turkeys. They said the barns are cramped and the animals have poor air quality.
“We’re out here to expose the injustices that happen to these animals behind closed doors. We want transparency in the way that our food is made. I believe that if people knew what goes on behind these doors, they wouldn’t want to consume these products,” said protester Ryan Park.
The owner of the farm refuted that argument. Mark Tschetter said the animals at his free-range turkey farm have plenty of space and are treated very well. He said he has nothing to hide, so he showed the protesters around.
“It’s very, very humiliating,” he said.
“It’s our livelihood. Our boys get up early and come to do work here… We don’t butcher these turkeys. It’s on the food chain. It’s safe and we work with the turkey board, far as crowding goes and we do everything in a very humane way.”
Tschetter called it a terrible morning.
“We tried to deal with them in a very nice manner because it was very agitating,” he said. To see people come off the highway into your farm — I mean, I won’t do it and I don’t expect other people to do it. So what kind of people these are, it really is mindboggling.”
Both groups said they called RCMP to keep the peace.
“Essentially, we would have the authority to remove them forcibly — would have been a bigger issue,” said Sgt. Bryan Mucha. “So a peaceful resolution is kind of what ended up happening and they did end up leaving the property.
While the incident didn’t turn violent, the protesters said they wouldn’t leave unless their three demands were met.
They wanted some of the turkeys to be released to a sanctuary, media coverage of barn’s interior and to walk away without charges.
The farm gave them five turkeys and Global News was allowed inside the barn — but there still could be criminal charges like breaking and entering, and mischief to property.
RCMP are investigating.